Gadget news
Dali iO-12 review: deliciously detailed wireless headphones with just one thing missing
1:00 pm | November 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Dali iO-12: 3-minute review

The delightfully delicious Dali iO-12 are easily in my top three headphone designs of all time, aesthetically speaking, and I've seen some gorgeous headphones in my time. I almost want to take a bite out of them, or at least dunk them in something creamy and highly calorific. And it's not just looks and luxe either – aptX Adaptive is here, as is 24-bit/96kHz resolution if you're going USB-C wired (both 3.5mm and USB-A to USB-C cables are provided) so you're getting the trousers and well as the talk, so to speak. 

While the Dali iO-12's bid for entry to our best wireless headphones guide surely includes that USB-C port for hi-res audio passthrough (take note, iPhone 15 and Apple Music users) the sense of pride in ownership one feels wearing these striking yet understated headphones is a massive part of their appeal. They look expensive (because they are) but more than that, they sound expensive. 

Forget special spatial audio side-sauce, forget customising what the on-ear controls do, forget EQ tweaks (other than the solo bass boost button) forget sound zones, forget speak-to-chat features and forget tweakable ANC. There's none of that here. In fact, there's no app here at all, so forget any visual representation of what's going on inside your headphones. 

That said, they're some of the best noise-cancelling headphones around even without the scope to tweak modes, levels or adaptiveness. And this is because what you chiefly want when you stick on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is for them to be worthy of their name claim and cancel some noise. What you need to know is that Dali's iO-12 reduce noise very well, thus setting the stage to deliver excellent audio to your ears.

I'm not at all surprised. Although TechRadar's reviews of Dali gear to date hone in the brand's speaker output (including the new Epikore 11, if you skip to point three here) my tenure at our sister publication, What Hi-Fi?, saw me help review the 2019-issue Dali iO-6 and Dali iO-4, the Danish audio specialist's first ever foray into the world of wireless over-ear headphones and one it approached as very much a 'personal speakers for your ears' endeavour. However that sounds, those inaugural cans were nothing short of excellent for detail, finesse and form, marred only by a fractionally over-cautious delivery that lacked an extra ounce of punch for the price. 

To atone for this (a mere four years later), Dali has added a button to boost bass. I don't particularly like it, but it's there – and the hi-fi sound profile is so enjoyable I don't care. There's also a new patented Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) magnet system, which I'll discuss later because that is inspired. 

Dali iO-12 held in a hand on autumnal leaves background

Favorite time of year, with headphones to match (Image credit: Future)

The ear pads here in the newest model are bigger than previous models, and while they're very well padded, make no mistake: this is a big set of over-ears and could swamp a smaller wearer – or overheat the user who tends to suffer from overly warm ears. If ever there was a set of over-ears for the fall temperature drop, it's the Dali iO-12. I love the coziness of them, even if the headband fell back on my crown a little more often than I'm used to – a 370g, they're certainly not the lightest on the market.

In summary, if you like to keep things simple and you want a quality, mature, hi-fi grade listen plus an aesthetic that purrs "I'm very important; do leave me alone", you've met your match in the Dali iO-12. However, if you prefer all the whistles and bells of an app-enhanced experience, you'll find a more suitable proposition for less money in the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, or even the mighty Bowers & Wilkins Px8

I did warn you they're expensive…

Dali iO12 in their case, on autumnal leaves

The Dali iO-12 have a fairly large case, but it feels premium and the earcups lie flat.  (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Price & release date

  • Released May 18, 2023
  • Priced $1,499 / £999, which is around AU$1,870

The Dali iO-12 were unveiled at the prestigious annual hi-fi trade show, High End Munich, in May 2023.

And high end is certainly what they are. If you want them, you'll need deep pockets; they're more expensive than premium options such as the Focal Bathys ($799 / £699 / €799, around AU$1,210) or the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 ($699 / £599 / AU$1150). 

OK, they're not quite as dear as the wired Meze Audio Liric ($1,999 / £1,799 / AU$3,399) but still, they're easily four or five times the price of many quality, aggressively priced options out there. 

Consider for example the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2, ($349 / £349 / approx. AU$540), the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399 / £380 / AU$649), the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 ($399 / £379 / approx. AU$575), the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 ($399 / £330 / approx. AU$640) or the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless ($349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95) for starters. 

Now, consider that every single one of the options above except the Dali iO-12 has a companion app. That performance had better be good, no? 

Dali iO-12 closeup, right earcup

All physical buttons, all on the right earcup – and although all work well, we'd love an app… (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Specs

Dali iO-12 headphones held in a hand, with autumnal leaves in the background

You've got to say the Dali iO-12 are a good-looking pair of headphones… (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Features

  • New Bass/Hi-Fi button
  • USB Aaudio supports up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution
  • Excellent ANC – but not as fully featured as the competition

Let's talk stamina first: 35 hours is very good. It's better than the 30-hour claim of the TechRadar 2023 Award-winning Bowers & Wilkins PX8, although not as good as the 45 hours you'll get from the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 or the 80-hour staying power of the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, but the latter is a somewhat skewed contest since the Edifier headphones are devoid of ANC. Also, I can confirm that Dali's battery life claim holds true.

Multipoint? Yes, it's here – and once you get used to that fact that the physical buttons are all on the right earcup, altering volume (by pushing the outer lip of the circular right earpiece either up at the top or down at the bottom), handling playback and scrolling ANC profiles works a charm. I did find myself turning them off occasionally in error, forgetting that the ANC button (which scrolls between "Transparency", "ANC off" and "ANC on")  is actually further forward on the earcup and a little trickier to locate, but these controls are certainly dependable.

What these physical buttons are not is customizable in any way. What am I talking about? Well, other headphones give us options to change what a single or double press might do. The competition might also let you deploy sidetone to amplify your voice during calls, set a few EQ profiles for different music genres, switch auto-pause on or off, offer sound zones, give you the chance to prioritize audio quality or a stable connection, or even switch up the vocal notifications to a female voice. None of that here. 

Usually in this section I'd provide three screenshots of Dali's companion app and a bit on its merits or shortcomings. Only, I cannot do that because there isn't one. One could argue you don't need an app if the sound from the box is good enough – and to a degree I'm inclined to agree. But anyone who's used Sennheiser's sound zones, deployed Bose's new Immersive Audio or created their own EQ profile for maximum hip-hop track enjoyment may beg to differ. In the end, it's up to you. 

One new button on the iO-12's right earcup, nearest your crown, is denoted by an EQ symbol. Press it and a male voice utters "bass" or "hi-fi" depending on how many times you've pushed it. It's something extra and it adds value, although I prefer Dali's integrated, refined hi-fi listen. Rather than unearthing that extra ounce of clout, snap and energy you might be hoping for, the bass booster amplifies the low end but draws a veil over the other frequencies somewhat.

The good news? The noise cancellation here is very good. The levels are not selectable on a slider (look to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for this) but still, when it's on, it does create a lovely bubble of silence. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Dali's iO-12 case on autumnal leaves

No denying it's a big case… (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Sound quality

  • Neutral, revealing separation with oodles of clarity 
  • Treble frequencies are particularly insightful and agile
  • Can still be beaten (just) for fun and zeal

What I love about larger over-ears is the circumaural sound dispersion and the Dali iO-12 serve up the goods here – in a big way. Kicking off with Far Beyond the Sun by Yngwie Malmsteen on Tidal (a FLAC file), cymbal crashes and keys approached my left ear with newfound direction and clarity as the guitar came in centrally.

My Chemical Romance's To the End reveals whispered backing vocals darting underneath each ear as axe crashes stay over on the left and the melody comes through the right. Gerard Way's vocal is as overly close to the mic as it should be in a cohesive and musically pleasing mix across the frequencies. 

Switching to an Apple Music file on my iPhone, the key progressions in Joni Mitchell's Blue are three-dimensional and moving. My playlist continues to All I Want, where each musical passage is given due diligence in a layered performance – strummed guitar chords in my right ear, the rhythm in my left, Mitchell's ponderous artistic vocal stylings and trills upfront and center. Honestly, it's emotional – particularly through the sparkling treble. Dali's iO-12 offer immersive listening without the extra parlor tricks; it's dynamically agile listening inside your head. I applaud it. I can (and have) listened to it for hours. If you're a singer, you'll want people to listen to your voice on these cans. 

Some listeners may want an extra iota of what I can only call fun; a cheekier rise and fall, a bit of added oomph, a punchier bass injection. You can look to Bose or JBL for these marginal sonic additives to the audio curve, I'll take the insight, detail, neutrality and precision of the Dali iO-12's hi-fi profile, thank you.

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

Dali iO-12 headphones on a park bench with autumnal leaves

Don't worry, we didn't leave the Dali iO-12 here. As if we could bear to part with them… (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Design

  • USB port on the right earcup, 3.5mm jack on the left
  • Classy design which lies flat but doesn't fold
  • Very large earcups and pads

The iO-12 are the world's first headphones to feature Dali's patented Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) magnet system. This is an important build feature since it uses the same material found in Dali's high-end speakers, but to understand it fully you need to know about 'hysteresis'. Conventional magnets in a speaker design can introduce an unintended resistance to the voice-coil, which can lead to unwanted distortion in the audio signal, aka hysteresis. Dali's SMC technology, combined with the company's signature paper fibre cones, promises to significantly reduce hysteresis and lower uneven harmonic distortion drastically. And I think it's a huge success.

Looking for a set of foldable headphones – the kind that concertina up for easier portability? No dice here sadly. In the same way that the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Focal Bathys or newer Fairphone FairBuds XL do, these cans have cups that can rotate to lie completely flat (and they do so silently, with no clicking whatsoever during adjustment), but the square hard-shell case is really quite big and not one that can easily slip into a bag unnoticed. 

The build here is really quite beautiful though (it does include real leather, vegans take note) and there is ample padding wherever you need it, particularly from the rectangular pads attached to the circular earcups. That said, they're big. You may love this; I certainly do – it helps to deliver a wide soundfield and there's nothing quite like a huge set of over-ears wrapped around your head to signal "No words, please" to the public. However, once or twice during testing and despite the about-perfect clamping force, I did find the iO-12's headband slipped back on my crown as I walked. I think it's their sheer size. 

Ultimately, these are cans that aren't backwards about coming forwards. Photos don't do it justice but the metallic circular accent on each earcup catches the sun beautifully – I did get regular compliments while wearing them. 

I like that the physical buttons are all one earcup since I'm right-handed, although those with larger fingers (or lefties) may find this a little fiddly – only the ANC button takes a bit of practise to locate quickly. 

What is a tad strange is the location of the wired input options, with one on each earpiece (USB-C on the right, 3.5mm jack on the left) – but this is relatively small fry and something you'll also find on the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2. The supplied fabric-covered cables feel premium, robust and impossible to tangle. 

There's very little sound bleed here, but there's also no IP rating for water resistance, so you should be careful in very heavy storms – particularly at this price. 

At 370g, they're equivalent to something like Apple's AirPods Max (384g), and like the AirPods, they use clamping to distribute that weight comfortably. Considering Sony's WH-1000XM5 are quite a bit lighter at 249g, the Dali definitely feel a tad more substantial in the scheme of headphones.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Dali IO-12 in their case on a beige table

Can't get enough of the chocolatey hue? You're not alone  (Image credit: Future)

Dali iO-12 review: Value

  • Premium looks, premium sound, premium price
  • USB-C audio connection adds flexibility and hi-res audio
  • There's no app – and cheaper options have one

There's no getting away from it: these headphones are expensive. But what they do, they do extremely well – and by that I mean you're getting excellent sound quality and very decent ANC.

That said, if you want the best (and by that I mean tweakable) transparency profiles, EQ presets, button tweaks, spatial audio, or perks money can buy, spend it elsewhere, on the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, or the Sony WH-1000XM5

Buying headphones usually involves a compromise (omission of a particular hi-res codec, poor call quality but great sound, lack of water resistance), and here, the glaring omission is app support and smart features. There just aren't any. Dali actually lists "No app required" as a feature in the iO-12, but we're not so sure. 

The battery level is more than sufficient at 35 hours, the build is incredibly beautiful and the sound is supremely detailed and integrated. If you want an extra ounce of oomph though, you'd be better off looking to Bose. 

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Dali iO-12?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Dali iO-12: Also consider

How I tested the Dali iO-12

TR's Becky Scarrott wearing Dali iO-12 headphones in a park

Unmistakably fall weather calls for warm, chocolate brown Dali over-ears. (Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over two weeks, listened against the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Bowers & Wilkins PX8 and Focal Bathys
  • Used on long walks on public streets, at work in a busy office, on a train, and at home
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music, Qobuz and Spotify on an iPhone 12, a Sony Xperia 1 V, and from MacBook Pro

To test headphones is to invite them into your life – how the case fits in your bag is just as important as how they slip onto your head. The Dali iO-12 became my daily musical companion – after a thorough run-in period. And just as Dali is a trusted name in speakers, I now trust what the firm can do with personal speakers that wrap around your head. 

These headphones accompanied me to work on busy weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and taking the London Underground; at the office) and walking along the blustery seafront – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

To check the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists across various music genres (spanning everything from grime to classical) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – plus of course YouTube tutorials (on how to change a light in my refrigerator, most recently) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for over five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but portability, security and comfort come a close second. 

Sonos Move 2 review: big portable sound for a big price
4:00 pm | September 18, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Sonos Move 2 review: Two-minute review

The Sonos Move 2 is the new big, portable speaker from Sonos, designed to be a home speaker than you can just grab and take with you when you feel like it.

The Sonos Move 2 is much bigger and heavier than most of the best Bluetooth speakers, but it packs in a lot more audio tech and battery life than those do – it can last 24 hours (and this holds up in my testing). The downside is that all of this tech comes at a seriously high price of $449 / £449 / AU$799.

The Sonos Move 2 does everything it's supposed to extremely well. It sounds great, with depth, poise and detail to please picky listeners, as well as being fun and loud enough for parties. Its loudness is part of its advantage – where other portable speakers top out and lose control, the Move 2 has tons of headroom.

Given that a mix of Bluetooth and Sonos Wi-Fi connectivity are now also offered by other Sonos speakers – particularly the Sonos Era 100, which sounds the same but is nearly half the price – the new Move 2 has a harder time justifying its price than its predecessor did. If you want the particular mix of power and practicality that it delivers, and you have the budget, then I totally recommend it. It's classy, reliable and flexible.

But for anyone more budget conscious or who doesn't need every feature it offers, you might be better off saving cash and looking at the stationary Sonos Era 100, the cheaper-but-weaker-sounding Sonos Roam, or the less-functional-but-excellent-sounding Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2.

Sonos Move 2 close up of the top, showing the control buttons and Sonos logo

The top of the Sonos Move 2 has touch-sensitive buttons for changing tracks and volume. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Move 2 review: Price and release date

  • Released on September 20, 2023
  • Officially priced at $449 / £449 / AU$799

Released in September 2023, the Sonos Move 2 arrives to a world densely populated by portable speakers, and mostly at a far, far lower price than its $449 / £449 / AU$799 fee. Sonos products don't tend to get much in the way of lifetime discounts either (though the company at least takes part in sales periods more than it used to, these days).

Sonos has always been a premium brand, and the Sonos Move 2 is nearly premium as portable speakers get, with only a few competitors, such as the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5, daring to go any higher than this.

Sonos has a more affordable alternative, of course, in the form of the Sonos Roam, which is priced (and sized) closer to what people think of from Bluetooth speakers. So the Move 2 is for people who don't want to compromise on the relatively compressed sound of the Roam.

However, it's worth noting that you can get something like the large and truly impressive-sounding Tribit Stormbox Blast for half the price of the Move 2. It's pricey even by hefty speaker standards.

Sonos Move 2 review: Specs

Sonos Move 2 on a white table, next to its charging base

The Sonos Move 2 with its charging cradle. You can also charge it via USB-C directly. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Move 2 review: Features

  • Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, plus optional line-in
  • 24-hour battery life holds up in tests
  • Touch controls on top work great

The Sonos Move 2 features both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi options for connectivity, just as its predecessor did. Unlike its predecessor, though, this is now a much more common option in Sonos' lineup. Not only do the Move 2 and Roam offer this, but also the Sonos Era 100 and Sonos Era 300

Also like the Era 100 and Era 300, it has a USB-C port that functions as a line-in (including for a 3.5mm jack, if you have Sonos' adapter), and a new arrangement of touch controls on top, including a recessed bar for volume that makes it easy to find. Play/pause and track skipping buttons are here too, along with an indicator for the voice control system – again, a feature it shares with the other speakers, including both Alexa and Sonos Voice Control options.

And just like the Era 100, the Move 2 has a three-driver speaker system, with two angled tweeters pointing left and right (to create stereo, Sonos claims), and one central mid-woofer. It means that more than ever, the distinction between the Move 2 and its closest sibling sonically, the Era 100 in this case, is the battery and tough build.

The battery life Sonos is claiming here is 24 hours, which is double what the original Sonos Move offered, and in my experience, it hits that – at least, with the volume not turned up too high. I found that it lost an average of about 4% per hour with the volume at around 25% playing over Wi-Fi (AirPlay 2), which is easily loud enough to enjoy music while I write this review at my desk. When you have it outside, odds are you'll have it a higher level than this, but I didn't find that the battery drain drastically rose.

I also found that it lost around 20% battery when left for 24 hours. It does have a sleep mode, which it should enter automatically when left alone, that effectively arrests battery drop. Although you can't wake it up from sleep mode remotely, you need to press the power button on the back to kick it back to life. One bonus of the battery this time is that you can charge your phone from it by plugging into the USB-C port. You don't have to do much – just plug it in, and if it doesn't immediately start charging, hit the power button on the back.

As with all Sonos systems, setting it up is easy. The Sonos app will detect it immediately, quickly run through the process of adding it to your Wi-Fi and your Sonos home network, as well as updating it with new software.

You can also enable Auto TruePlay here, which will adjust the sound automatically to your environment, updating every few minutes because the speaker constantly monitors itself. Sonos has told me that this is less effective than the full Trueplay or the Quick Tune option on its newer speakers. I'm not sure it's doing much transformative here, but it's better than nothing. There is also the option of using two Move 2 speakers for a more convincing stereo system, though I don't expect this to be a wildly popular option at this price.

You can set the voice control options from the app, either enabling Amazon Alexa or Sonos Voice Control, which offers pretty much only the ability to select and play music, but with no cloud computing, so it may be preferable for the privacy-minded. A switch on the back disables the mic completely, if you prefer. On the back at the bottom, you'll also find the USB-C port.

Bluetooth pairing is also turned on and off using a button on the back, which you hold briefly. It immediately appeared as an option on my devices after that. You can use the Bluetooth connection or the optional line-in (a separate 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter can be bought) to connect to the Move 2, and then broadcast that sound around to other Sonos speakers. So, I was able to connect the Move 2 to a Bluetooth source and use the Sonos app to beam that sound to my Sonos Arc. It worked totally seamlessly, through the System view of the Sonos app – hit the square "broadcast" icon by the Move 2 to choose other Sonos speakers to send the audio to.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Sonos Move 2 sitting on its charging base on a white table

On its charging cradle, the Sonos Move 2 might as well be any other home Wi-Fi speaker. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Move 2 review: Sound quality

  • Excellent balance and great detail
  • No difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Not really stereo sound

Let's get one quick thing out of the way: I couldn't make out any clear difference in sound quality between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (via Apple AirPlay 2 or from the Sonos app directly) on the Sonos Move 2. So any judgment of the sound applies equally to all sources.

It may not shock Sonos regulars to know that the Move 2 sounds great. It's capable of great depth at the low end in a way that makes use of its size and weight – a bass line can thrum and vibrate with richness without ever feeling like it's getting loose, while drums hit tightly and sharply. 

Big bass is still fairly common in portable speakers though (partly because low-end frequencies lose volume quickly and are easily disrupted by reflections/wind), but it can often feel overblown: the trick to the Sonos Move 2 is that that it's balanced so expertly, as is usual with Sonos gear. The bass carries well outside, but indoors it still says in line with with the mid-range and treble.

In the mid-range, instruments have enough room to express themselves, and it certainly doesn't feel like a small soundstage – it diffuses nicely while still having the specificity of particular voices or tones. I think it struggles most for clarity here in particular dense tracks. You can also get slightly better precision from something like the HomePod 2, or certainly from the Sonos Era 300 – both of which are the same price or cheaper, but also aren't portable. It doesn't handle things badly at all, I just noticed its limits here.

In treble, it's again crisp and in total control. Little high-end details lift out of the mid-range with no confusion, and again it feels suitable expansive and carries well across the room.

As with the Era 100 and its extremely similar speaker arrangement, I don't think I can really say that it lives up to Sonos' claims of producing stereo sound. If you are sitting directly facing it at an optimal distance, yes, in tracks with major separation, you'll be able to hear it. But that's not really how the Sonos Move is used; when it's outside or across the room, it won't really matter. But I think the angled drivers do help with the wide soundstage, and that's very welcome in a speaker like this.

The question about the Move 2 isn't really whether it sounds good. It really does. It's whether it sounds good enough for the price, which is undoubtedly high. Its sound is incredibly close to the Sonos Era 100 (I compared them directly), as you might expect given their similar audio setups, but you can buy two Era 100s for essentially the same price as one Sonos Move.

I also compared it directly to my favorite Bluetooth speaker, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2. This is another one that's regularly available for half the price of the Move 2, and though it lacks some of the features (no Wi-Fi, 18 hours of battery life), I was surprised at how close in sound quality they were. The B&O has always impressed me with its balance, and although the bass isn't quite as impactful, and the mid-range is a little less expressive, the different in general music enjoyment between them was slim.

However, the difference in volume headroom was huge. The Move 2 was able to hit the same loudness at 25-30% that the B&O was hitting at 50%. There's simply more headroom from the much larger machine.

  • Sound quality: 4.5/5

Sonos Move 2 rear, showing the handle and some control buttons, on a white table

The rear of the Sonos Move 2 has its handle, along with some of the 'boring' buttons and switches. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Move 2 review: Design

  • Great-feeling build and materials
  • Sleek design that looks good as a home speaker
  • A real handle would probably be better

The Sonos Move 2 looks incredibly like the original Move, but with a new finish to the plastic, a slightly different curve to its edges, and a new-look top panel – all in line with Sonos' new design language, introduced with the Era 100 and Era 300 speakers. Following this, the black finish is a little different, and in addition to black or white, there's a new Olive color, which is what I had, and I think it's an excellent shade. Neutral without being boring; fashionable but not flashy.

And it doesn't just look like the original, either; it's essentially the same dimensions and weight. Compared to a truly portable speaker, such as a JBL Flip 6 or Sonos' own Roam, it's damn big, there's no question. The 6.6 lb / 3kg weight also pushes the definition of portable a little, depending on what you want to do with it. It's too much to add to a pack for a hike, but carrying it to my garden while I worked on weeding it was no hardship. But then, I'm also a young-ish guy with no physical ailments. I'm not sure my mother would carry it to her tomatoes when she tends to them at this weight, which she might with a lighter speaker.

A factor in the weight is how you carry it. The recessed section in the back is perfectly fine to grip for me, and feels rock solid as a way to carry it – but it means the weight is unbalanced, so again, if someone has any grip or strength issues, they may struggle with it. Having this "invisible" handle makes the Move 2 look good in the home when not in use, but for sheer practicality, a standard over-the-top carry handle would probably be more useful for more people.

The charging dock is the only part that doesn't feel quite as meticulously engineered as the rest. It's not that there's anything wrong with it as such, it's just thin and light. I also found myself nudging it when re-seating the Move 2 for charging, and then having to double-check it was definitely in there right, because it doesn't have the satisfying and secure fit you get when putting something like AirPods Pro 2 back in their charging case.

The speaker is IP56 rated, meaning that it can take being sprayed, and lightly submerged, as well as being able to protect against a fair amount of dust or sand. You'll find that a lot of the best waterproof speakers can best this, but it's fine for what the Move 2 is really designed for – it'll take being rained on if you leave it outside, or sprayed by the kids accidentally.

  • Design score: 4/5

Sonos Move 2 being lifted by its handle

The Sonos Move 2's rear handle isn't hard to grab, but it's not exactly balanced. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Move 2 review: Value

  • It's expensive compared to other Sonos speakers
  • But it offers a unique flexibility and audio quality combination
  • Ultimately worth it, if you need what it offers

I touched on this topic at the end of the sound quality section, but the issue with the value of the Sonos Move 2 is really what you can get instead. You get a Sonos Era 300, which sounds noticeable better. Or two Sonos Era 100 units, which might mean you don't need the portability. Or one Era 100 and one Sonos Roam, giving you portability and power in separate units.

However, I don't think the Move 2 is bad value, because of the particular mix of stuff it's offering. The battery life is really long compared to other portable speakers, the sound quality is so enjoyable, and it's so flexible with its combo of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (and the ability to beam Bluetooth sound to other Sonos devices).

So if you want the Move 2, you have to want what it offers in particular. This particular mix of high-quality sound, long battery life and connectivity options, and you're happy not to compromise on budget to get it.

Taken as a whole, the Move 2 is not bad value, but I definitely won't be enthusing about what a bargain it is.

  • Value score: 3/5

Sonos Move 2 on a white table

The Sonos Move 2 is a lovely, lovely speaker, but the price will definitely put some people off. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Sonos Move 2?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Sonos Move 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Sonos Move 2

The Sonos Move 2 next to the Sonos era 100, showing how much smaller the Era 100 is

The Sonos Move 2 is much larger than the Era 100, despite similar audio and connection tech. (Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for over a week
  • Tested at home and in my yard
  • Used primarily with Apple Music, but also podcasts

I tested the Sonos Move 2 for over a week at my home, using it as my main source of music during that time – while working from home at my desk, indoors at a lower volume; and while working on my garden, with the volume turned up higher to overcome the sounds of the neighborhood.

I mainly used it with Apple Music, tested over Bluetooth, over AirPlay 2, and using the Sonos app at different times, to make sure there were no audio quality differences. I also listened to podcasts on it a little.

I compared it to the Sonos Era 100 directly in a head-to-head test, as well as the B&O Beosound A1 Gen 2. I also had the Sonos Era 300 and Apple HomePod 2 available, so I listened to those for more value comparisons.

Anker Soundcore Space One review: a bargain Beats alternative with ANC
4:00 pm | September 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Two-minute review

Anker is that name you seek out when your budget is a little tighter than ideal but you still want something good quality with a few neat features. The Anker Soundcore Space One reflect that ethos perfectly. While they don't offer sound as meaty as the best headphones, they're clearly punching above their weight at just $100/£100. 

A quick glance instantly shows you that the Anker Soundcore Space One are trying to be like Beats. They have a very similar build and they're about the same kind of weight. Outside of people like us, most people wouldn't immediately notice the difference visually. Available in a few different colors, that attitude is even more obvious. While these are more on a par with the best cheap headphones, the Anker Soundcore Space One still offer some key features.

There's powerful ANC with easy to use options via the Soundcore app. Up to 40 hours of listening time is possible here with ANC enabled while a massive 55 hours can be achieved with it switched off. In our time, that proved accurate too. A quick five-minute charge gives back four hours working out a pretty useful backup.

The 40mm dynamic drivers aren't great out of the box but spend some time with the HearID function via the app and you'll soon get the Anker Soundcore Space One sounding just how you want them to. As is often the way with cheaper headphones, bass is the highlight here but sound on the whole is crisp and clear. 

LDA support is available for Android phones while there's Hi-Res audio certification for both wired and wireless use. All the key boxes are ticked here. The only main one that the Anker Soundcore Space One falters on is wear detection. 

During our time testing, it was very patchy. Sometimes it would work and other times, you'd realise too late that you'd missed a half a song to interact with the world. With a strong transparency mode, this is less relevant when talking to people but if you're pausing while relaxing at home, it's a bit of an irritant to not be able to rely on it.

Still, we'll let that one go a little bit as we eye up the price of the Anker Soundcore Space One and enjoy other options like Multi-point that you may not get elsewhere at this price. Overall, the Anker Soundcore Space One are a bit of a bargain. The kind of headphones to make you question spending hundreds on more premium brands, Anker's got things ticking along nicely here.

Anker Soundcore Space One review review: Price and release date

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released August 2023
  • $99 / £99

The Anker Soundcore Space One are shrewdly priced at $99 / £99. Currently available in the US, UK, and Europe, they're available direct from Soundcore as well as from third-party retailers. 

Colors wise, you have three options – black, blue, and a white that's more like cream. One of their nearest rivals is the Sony WH-CH520 at $59 / £50. There's no ANC though. 

For ANC, consider the JBL Tune 750BTNC at $99/£99. Battery life is way lower at 15 hours with ANC on and they're showing their age with Bluetooth 4.2 support, but they sound great. 

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Specs

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Features

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • ANC is good for the price
  • Hi-res audio support
  • Multi-point pairing 

The Anker Soundcore Space One is a veritable checklist of everything you'd likely need or want from headphones. There's Hi-res audio support along with LDAC for Android users -- something you don't always see in this price range. 

Alongside that, there's the Soundcore companion app that isn't overwhelming nor too basic. You'll need to dive in for a few minutes to set up HearID to get the most from these cans' audio but it's worth it. It's like an eye test for your ears with you simply choosing the option that sounds best for you before a new EQ is devised for your needs. 

Elsewhere in the app, you can adjust the ANC. For the most part, leaving it on adaptive ANC is the best move. It adjusts fairly well based on your surroundings but there's also a custom option for times when you need to crank it up even further. Transparency mode can also be enabled here allowing you to easily converse with others without taking them off. Delve further and you can use Easy Chat options to allow you to lower the volume at the touch of the ear cup for when you need to speak to someone, or even use speak to enable so no input is needed from you.

The latter is in beta and much like wear detection, it's not to be relied on. In our time of reviewing it, the Anker Soundcore Space One has already been updated to improve wear detection but more work needs to be done.

Wobble aside and the Anker Soundcore Space One smashes it out the park with its ANC. At this price, you rarely get ANC that feels much better than passive noise isolation but these are special. Whack ANC on and you won't hear conversations nearby you. You'll hear traffic as you walk but it's still blocked out sufficiently so that it doesn't disrupt your listening experience. While the Anker Soundcore Space One may not be perfect, they're more than good enough for blocking out all the most irritating sounds that life brings with it.

  • Features score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Sound quality

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong bass 
  • Hi-res support
  • Mostly crisp and clear

Dive into the Anker Soundcore Space One and expect the sound quality of a $350/£350 pair of cans and you'll be disappointed. When it comes to the finer touches like detailed mids and the right amount of treble, the Anker Soundcore Space One doesn't really hit the spot. It's fine but nothing special.

However, when it comes to a strong level of bass and a wide soundstage, you can't go wrong with these cans. Focusing on bass is a familiar concept for many budget headphones but when Daft Punk's Around the World kicked in on our 90s playlist, we were delighted at how thumping it felt and what a wide soundstage experience there was. 

For more vocal-heavy songs like John Legend's All of Me, you still get a crisp experience. Similarly, podcasts and other types of spoken word sound just fine and suitably clear.

If you're more of a nuanced music listener, the Anker Soundcore Space One won't hit the spot in quite the same way, but for cans to wear on your commute or walk, they're just right. 

There's always Hi-Res audio with LDAC support for Android users too if you want something a little richer.

One quick note – bear in mind that the sound quality is based on you spending the time setting up your HearID profile. Out of the box, the Soundcore Space One doesn't sound anywhere near as good so it makes a crucial difference. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Design

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Look a lot like Beats
  • Comfy headband
  • Folding design 

Glancing at the Anker Soundcore Space One next to a pair of Beats and it's surprisingly hard to tell the difference. They're clearly influenced by them right down to the logo on each earcup looking similar. They're not quite as stylish with fewer curved edges but there's not much in it.

Crucially, the Anker Soundcore Space One are well-padded. The ear cups get a bit warm when it's hot but they keep your ears comfy for however long you use them for. Similarly, the headband feels great with no clamping force wrecking your day. Extending the headband makes a kind of crunch noise but it doesn't sound worrying and it's simple enough to find the right fit for you. 

Both ear cups fold in so you can easily store these headphones without them taking up any more room than they have to. A small travel pouch is included for a bit of extra protection but solely in your bag folded should keep them safe. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Value

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very well-priced
  • Likely to be new leader
  • Always hope for more discounts 

The Anker Soundcore Space One are excellent value for what they offer. Better than the always tempting Sony WH-CH520 thanks to offering ANC, and far better than the ageing JBL Tune 750BTNC, there's not much out there at this price that could currently beat the Anker Soundcore Space One. 

To do so, you'd need to spend a lot more money to compete and that's hardly the point here, is it? 

The Anker Soundcore Space One's temperamental wear detection is an irritant but we're hopeful that future updates rectify it. You never know, that could be in time for a price cut too given Soundcore gear is often in sales.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Anker Soundcore Space One?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Also consider

How I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for two weeks
  • Compared against Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4
  • Listened to Apple Music and Spotify on an iPhone 14 Pro,and a MacBook Pro

I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One against the Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4. I used them in the home office, in my living room while others were busy doing things, and walking around my local area during busy and quiet times. 

I used the Anker Soundcore Space One just how I would use my regular pair of headphones – for everything! That meant using them on my morning walk alongside busy and noisy traffic, as well as quieter walks in more rural areas where I got to test transparency mode (and ANC) against sociable dog walkers saying hello. 

Besides those active times, I also used the Anker Soundcore Space One as my main headset when taking work calls, watching Twitch streams, YouTube videos, and even some cheeky lunchtime gaming on my MacBook Pro. 

When listening to music, I focused on different genres including classical, jazz, the latest hits, and my favorite 90s playlist. This was across both Apple Music and Spotify. I also listened to podcasts on Spotify. 

I've been testing and reviewing audio products for over 10 years now. If I placed all the headphones and earphones I've reviewed in one room, there wouldn't be much space for me. I'm a big fan of music and always having something to keep my ears distracted from environmental sounds like my neighbour's never-ending DIY projects. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: August 2023
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Bass in your face
9:02 am | August 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2: Two-minute review

The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is the latest version of the American audio brand’s Crusher series of headphones. The company says this new model takes the bass response loved by many from the predecessor and adds active noise cancellation (ANC). This is my first foray into the Crusher series, so I don’t have the luxury of having used the previous model, but the prospect of bass, plus noise cancellation, meant I simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a listen.  

I have used Skullcandy headphones before, but when I was a wee youngster. They were affordable, came in an array of funky colors and produced what I believed at the time to be great sound. Fast forward to today and Skullcandy continues to offer those fun and funky designs, alongside a more premium offering, the likes of which see it sit with the heavyweights of the headphone world – in terms of both price and features – such as Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and Apple.

These established brands have a slight stronghold on the market and the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 sets out to disrupt this. And based on my listening, I think it gives it a very good crack indeed. If you’re in the market for a new set of cans and you’ve felt let down by bass reproduction on models you’ve auditioned thus far, then you need to give the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 a listen. 

Upon first listen to Skullcandy’s latest, I found myself literally saying “wow” out loud, due to the bass served up being so deep it quite literally shook my skull. I’d even go as far as describing it as having London’s Printworks nightclub strapped to your head. If your primary music tastes revolve around low bass beats, then you absolutely need to hear them. If they don’t, however, you might want to tread with caution, as the bass on offer does take center stage and can overshadow the rest of the frequencies if you turn it up to the maximum level. But thanks to an easily accessible control wheel, you can adjust said bass levels in an instant, and just give your tracks a bit of extra low-end oomph. 

Inside view of Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 earcups

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

The Crusher ANC 2 is a handsome pair of headphones and I fully welcome the inclusion of numerous physical buttons to control various aspects of playback compared to touch and gesture controls found on most other premium models. The orange power button is a stylish subtle touch on a matte black finish. Whilst the band is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, it's sleek and premium-looking. 

Battery life is almost unrivalled too, at a claimed 50 hours with ANC turned on. Only the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless spring to mind as bettering them with a 60-hour figure. 

Noise cancellation isn’t class-leading, as I was able to hear chatter around me in the office on occasion. I have experienced similar issues with other noise-cancelling headphones, however, and personally find in-ear headphones such as the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II to be far more effective. 

These features, coupled with the performance, do indeed justify the price tag in my opinion, but this is also its Achilles’ heel. At the time of writing, for the same or similar money (depending on your market) you can pick up the Sony WH-1000XM4, a pair that still tops our best noise-cancelling headphones and best headphones lists, despite being succeeded by a newer model. For outright sonic reproduction, Sony takes the crown. But if you want a pair of headphones that is fun, a bit different and that will give you the same wow-inducing experience as me, then you need to give the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 an audition. 

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Price and availability

Skullcandy announced the Crusher ANC 2 headphones on August 1, 2023. They’re available globally with pricing set at $229.99 / £199.99 / AU$399.95. In the US at least, the Crusher ANC 2 undercut the Sony XM4 by some margin, but in the UK and Australia, they’re pitted squarely against each other. 

You can only get them in one color: black. It would have been nice to see a silver or off-white model too, given the popularity of these colors on some of the competition. 

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Specifications

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Features

  • Crusher bass control
  • Personalized sound
  • Skull iQ voice control

Skullcandy has thrown so much into the Crusher ANC 2 that I was disappointed to not see a kitchen sink mentioned in the specs list. The headline feature here is the Crusher adjustable bass, which lets you cycle through 10 levels of increasing bass response. The more you increase it, the more you will start to physically feel the earcups vibrate against your head. You can turn the feature off entirely if you wish. 

ANC is the other headline feature here, and the main one that has warranted the upgrade over the original Crusher headphones. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best execution of the technology that I’ve heard. External sounds do get blocked out, but not as effectively as I’ve experienced with other pairs of headphones. 

While I was writing this paragraph, for example, I was at home in the living room whilst my housemate was in the kitchen. I couldn’t hear every single thing he was doing or him talking to me, but I could hear rustles of packets, clinks of spoons and cupboard doors shutting. Turning the volume up helped to drown these out more, but I would’ve liked the ANC capabilities to have been good enough to not require this. 

Skullcandy SkullIQ app on iPhone

The Skull-iQ app offers plenty in the way of customization (Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

Through a partnership with Mimi Hearing Technologies (an audio processing startup), you are able to personalize the overall sound profile of the headphones too, by taking a hearing test found in the companion Skull-iQ app. It was pleasing to find you can easily toggle between sound profiles before and after the test to hear your results. In my case, there was a genuine difference, with the soundstage sounding more open and having greater depth. The ‘before’ sound was much flatter in comparison.

You also get multipoint connectivity with support for up to two devices thanks to Bluetooth 5.2. Tile (the Bluetooth tracker) finding technology is built in, so if you ever mislay the headphones, you can reunite yourselves using the Tile app. The companion Skull-iQ app for iOS and Android allows you to assign and reassign functions to each button – some can support multiple functions depending on how many times you press them. For example, Spotify Tap lets you start playing your most recent Spotify tracks at the press of a button and you even carry out the majority of playback features using your voice. 

The only feature I feel is missing is wear detection, which would pause playback when you take the headphones off your head. But since pausing playback can be done at the press of a button, this isn’t a dealbreaker. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Design

  • Physical buttons to control virtually all aspects of playback
  • Comfortable despite being heavier than competition
  • Premium look and feel

Over-ear headphones, by and large, opt for safe and sophisticated design, with the only slight injection of personality coming in the form of subtle accents. Sony headphones, for example, employ little touches of rose gold and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 see the earcups moving up and down a singular headband. The general consensus surrounding the Sennheiser Momentum 4 is that they’re a little bland. 

Skullcandy has gone down the subtle accent route with the Crusher ANC 2. At first glance, it is just another pair of black headphones. But the orange power button and textured section in the middle of the headband do enough in my opinion to deem them different. I’m not sure how many people spend time feeling their headphones, but the Crusher ANC 2 is silky smooth on the earcups and that middle headband section introduces a bit of roughness. These little touches only add to the appeal in my opinion, as it's clear the designers actually considered the final product and didn’t follow the rest of the crowd. 

Close up on Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 right earcup

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

At 332g, you may initially think the Crusher ANC 2 could do with going on a diet, as it’s one of the heavier pairs of headphones in the premium space. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 comes in at 293g, Bose 700s 252g and the Sony WH-1000XM5 is practically a feather at 249g. But Skullcandy has handled weight distribution beautifully, as I didn’t notice the extra weight all that much. 

Sure, it’s there, but not to the point where they feel like they’re physically pushing your head down. The padding in the center of the headband is incredibly plush and does a great job of absorbing the weight, while the cushioning around the earcups does an equally impressive job of making them feel snug, without feeling like they’re crushing your ears. 

I have found other pairs of over-ear headphones to be uncomfortable in the past. Either the earcups would press into my head too much, or the pressure of the headband would become unbearable. I have yet to find similar issues in the Crusher ANC 2 and feel I could easily wear them for longer listening sessions. 

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 being worn on head

Despite being heavier than the competition, the Crusher ANC 2 headphones are comfortable to wear (Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

That could include a long-haul flight and you’ll be pleased to know that Skullcandy has made the Crusher ANC 2 travel-friendly by employing a folding design. Where some competitor pairs now favor a simple swivel design for the earcups, the Crusher can be folded up neatly – there are subtle hinges on the band just above each earcup – and placed either in the supplied case or, if space is really tight in your bag, they can find a home in a smaller space. 

There are separate physical buttons on the right earcup to increase and decrease volume and play/pause/answer calls. They’re easy to identify without looking, since the central play/pause button is concave and the other two each have a unique protrusion to feel. A toggle switch is also on the right earcup to turn ANC on or off. On the left is the aforementioned orange power button, and the Crusher bass control wheel. The wheel can also be pressed in to carry out any command you choose within the app. 

Wired listening is possible – a 3.5mm cable is included – via an aux-in on the left earcup, which sits next to the USB-C charging port.

  • Design score: 5 / 5

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Sound quality

  • Crusher bass works well for dance tracks, can give others a low-end push
  • Flaws to be found in other genres

A pair of headphones could be the most well-designed and feature-packed ever, but if they don’t sound good, then they’re essentially made redundant. Fortunately, that isn’t the case for the Crusher ANC 2. The majority of the music I listen to is of a dance and deep house persuasion, so the ramped up bass is something I knew I was going to enjoy and they didn’t disappoint. But even I can freely admit that turning the Crusher wheel all the way to 10 is overkill. 

Yes, it’s impressive and the insane vibrations do make you go “ooft”, but for when you actually want to listen to your music, I found anywhere between level two to five – at a maximum – did enough to improve my enjoyment. Music played when the bass is increased gains extra energy and rhythm, and I found myself dancing around my living room as if I were at a silent disco. 

Bottom view of Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 earcups

The inclusion of physical buttons makes playback control a breeze (Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

Don’t let the focus on bass put you off if you listen to other genres though, as the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 handles them well. I loaded up Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and the iconic drum beat intro benefits from the extra low-end push in my opinion. I expected her vocals to be drowned out by the bass beneath, but was pleasantly surprised to find they still shone through with clarity. I would say outright precision and organization is sacrificed a little compared to the class-leading competition, but not to the point where the performance sounded like it was tripping over itself. 

Slow things down with a more vocal-orientated ballad such as Billie Eilish’s WhenThe Party’s Over and it becomes clearer that the Skullcandy pair isn’t quite an all-rounder. I listened to the track side-by-side on the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 and an older pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 (the predecessor to the five-star XM4, which have now been succeeded by the new XM5) and from the opening word of ‘Don’t’ the Sony pair had far greater impact, with Billie’s voice being the clear standout of the whole arrangement. Indeed, for a more detailed listen you will want to opt for a pair from the industry heavyweights.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones in case

The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones come supplied with an aux cable and USB-A to USB-C charging cable  (Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

When listening through the Skullcandys and the Crusher level set to zero, Billie’s voice is still clear, but not to the same extent. The best analogy that comes to mind is that her vocal sounds recessed into the backing track, whereas on the Sony pair it protrudes beyond it, sounding more direct and giving a sense of dimension and layering to the soundstage. The Sony pair also proves to be more dynamically adept as the song progresses, able to track the rising and falling of instruments and vocal lilts.

The Crusher ANC 2 offers an entertaining listen in its own right and delivers a surprisingly impressive amount of low-end punch that’s rare to find in headphones of this price. But a relative lack of detail and dynamic expression does mean it can’t rub shoulders with the best-in-class competition. 

  • Sound quality score: 4 / 5

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Battery life

Battery life can often be the chink in the armor of the best noise-cancelling headphones, but fortunately for the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2, I have very few criticisms. The company claims you’ll get 50 hours of playback time with ANC turned on, and I’m inclined to believe it. 

I’ve been using the headphones for a couple of weeks now, on and off, and have only managed to get the battery down to 70%. If you turn ANC off, battery life is claimed to increase to 60 hours. If you do want your pair to last as long as possible between charges, I would recommend doing this, as I couldn’t hear much of a difference when toggling ANC on and off. 

If you do manage to finally empty the battery, plugging it into USB-C power will get you four hours of playback from just 10 minutes of charging. I have yet to discover how long a full charge takes as I’ve haven't been unable to drain the battery completely. 

  • Battery life score: 5 / 5

Close up view of Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headband showing textured material

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Value

  • More affordable than the competition with little sacrifice
  • Bass fans have their prayers answered
  • Competition are better all-rounders

While it is true that the competition in this premium headphone space do offer better all-round packages, a quick glance at our comparison table further down shows the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 are the cheaper pair by some margin. To some, this saving in cost could outweigh the sacrifices that need to be made. 

No, the ANC performance isn't class-leading, but it's not as though it doesn't block out any external sound at all. There is greater insight to be gained from other pairs, too, but the sound produced by the Crusher ANC 2 is still perfectly listenable. And, where some customers of other pairs may have said they wish there was more bass, with the Crusher ANC 2, there is no such criticism to make. 

For me, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is a fun pair of headphones that doesn't appear to take itself too seriously. It delivers a competent performance – one that did pleasantly surprise me, I'll be honest – and does enough to at least warrant a listen. 

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Should I buy the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 being worn on head

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Tested for two weeks, listened against the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones
  • Used in the office, at home and in public (train platforms, busy streets)
  • Listened to Apple Lossless tracks via Apple Music

The pair of Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones sent to me for review was a brand new set, so I allowed them to run-in for around 48 hours before starting to make any notes and observations. 

Once run in, I listened to Apple Lossless music tracks via Apple Music on both my iPhone and my MacBook Air. I listened for extended periods of time during each week to test out the battery life claims. Following my two week review period, I'd only managed to get the battery down to 66 percent. 

I wore the Crusher ANC 2 headphones in various locations to test out the active noise cancellation capabilities, these included in the office where there is regular chatter; on train platforms where trains regularly pull in; and on busy streets when walking around near my home. 

To test out the audio capabilities, I listened to a variety of music genres, from dance and house music, to more melancholy ballads and even some death metal. 

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed August 2023]

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Powerful, portable, pricey
2:37 am | August 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5: Two-Minute Review

If you like your wireless Bluetooth speakers to go loud, offer a raft of genuinely useful features, and to masquerade as a picnic basket, then the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 is for you. OK, maybe the picnic basket looks are a little niche but, despite that, B&O’s latest good-looking music maker is quite possibly the best Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever heard. 

It’s not cheap, I’ll admit, but take just one listen – hey, even one look could be enough, it’s so beautiful – and you’ll soon understand where your money is going. The Danish audio maestros at Bang & Olufsen have concocted a simply sublime speaker here, one that will take pride of place in your home. 

The Beosound A5 is so accomplished in its audio delivery, I was able to hide it away – on a side table alongside a pot plant – and was treated to an audio performance with such scale and power that I found myself questioning not only where the sound was coming from, but also how it was able to so easily fill the room, considering its relatively small size. It’s all made possible by the Beosound A5’s “Omni” sound, which is 360º sound to me and you – more on that later.

Connectivity options are strong, with the aforementioned Bluetooth (version 5.3), Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. Music streaming services including Spotify, Tidal and Deezer can also connect via Wi-Fi and, should you already own other speakers bearing the B&O name, you can integrate the Beosound A5 into a multi-room system.

Perhaps what is the Beosound A5’s pièce de résistance, however, is the fact you’re able to take it on-the-move with you. One would expect that a speaker capable of the levels of power on offer here would need to be tethered to a wall socket at all times. Indeed, its closest competitors in terms of audio performance (here’s looking at you, Sonos Era 300) do require constant mains power. But B&O has managed to integrate a rechargeable battery that is good for up to 12 hours on a single charge, which puts it more in the firing line of the Sonos Move. Sonos’ portable powerhouse costs around half of what B&O asks for the Beosound A5, which only serves to highlight how considerable of an investment this speaker is.

Whilst the designers will tell you legacy products such as the Beolit series of radios influenced the styling choices of the A5, there’s no denying that it looks like a picnic basket. And thanks to battery power, you can take said picnic basket to an actual outdoor picnic. 

It’s an incredibly accomplished speaker, then, but there’s no getting around the fact it is expensive. In fact, the word ‘very’ wouldn’t look out of place in that sentence. But the Beosound A5 is also perhaps the best wireless speaker to come off Bang & Olufsen’s production line. Ever. And to some, owning the product with that title – not to mention the bragging rights that come with the name – could be priceless. 

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Price and availability

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 in Dark Oak colour on coffee table

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Released on April 27, 2023
  • Priced from $1,099 / £899 / AU$1,650
  • Extra cost for Dark Oak model

Bang & Olufsen launched the Beosound A5 Bluetooth speaker on April 27, 2023 in two color options: Nordic Weave (natural aluminum with a woven paper fiber front and light oak handle) and Dark Oak (black anthracite aluminum with a dark wood grille and handle).

The Nordic Weave model is the more affordable of the two, having an RRP of $1,099 / £899 / AU$1,650. The Dark Oak model will set you back an extra $100 / £100 in the US/UK and an extra AU$150 in Australia.

That’s a lotta cash, but you are getting a lotta speaker in return, and if you’re looking at Bang & Olufsen to be the deliverer of music in your home, chances are you’re not one to be phased by the money being asked for. Plus, the Beosound A5 holds a unique position in that it delivers serious power and is portable. If you take the view that you’re getting two premium products in one gorgeous body, you can at least justify to yourself (or your better half) that it’s worth forking out for. 

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Specs

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Features

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 top panel

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for multiple streaming options
  • No wired inputs
  • Global radio stations via B&O app

Tucked away behind its gorgeous exterior, Bang & Olufsen has installed a 130mm bass driver, two 50mm full-range drivers and a single 20mm tweeter. Each driver gets its own 70W of Class D amplification, bringing the total to 280 watts, which is a lot considering its size. 

Bluetooth 5.3 is onboard for maximum compatibility with a range of audio sources, but you also get the option of streaming music via Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Chromecast over Wi-Fi. There aren’t any physical inputs for playing audio, with the only input being USB-C, which is used for charging. 

The Bang & Olufsen companion app opens up even more options, such as instant access to a vast array of radio stations. Local stations in your country are listed first and foremost, but you are free to change the location, so you can easily stream radio from the likes of Africa, Asia or South America, should you be so inclined. 

The Beosound A5 is also set up to become part of a wider multi-room audio system. Not only can you group it with other AirPlay speakers, for example, but you can also add it to an existing Beolink multi-room system, if you already own other B&O products that support it. 

And, while Google Assistant is supported, it's not by the way of voice. You can control the Beosound A5 using Google Assistant via your phone, but you can't bark commands at it. This is despite there being a microphone built into the unit. The mic can be used for room calibration, although I have yet to be able to get this to work. 

There's a physical switch on the rear of the A5, which I toggled on and off a few times to try and get the speaker to register that it was indeed on, but whenever I navigated to the calibration setting in the app, I kept getting the message that the microphone wasn't activated. I have read other accounts of people being able to get the microphone and calibration software to work, so hopefully this is just a minor bug with my review unit. 

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Sound quality

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 in Dark Oak close up

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Remains in control at high volume
  • Omni sound creates more space, but not genuine 360º
  • Fully customizable equalizer within B&O app

I’ve already alluded to it in this review, but to reiterate, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5’s sound quality is bloody phenomenal (pardon the language but it's necessary here)! Once I had it set up in my main room, I got to work throwing all manner of songs at it to see how it coped. The first thing I noticed was just how loud it was able to go. My main room is a good size, and when connected via AirPlay from my iPhone, it filled it with ease. I didn’t even need to have the volume a third of the way to full and I was still concerned I’d get a knock at the door from the neighbors. 

If you do dare to turn up the volume, then you’ll experience a sound that is genuinely room-filling. I didn’t have a larger room to test the speaker in, but considering what I said about not even needing to put the volume at 30%, I have no doubt that 70% to 100% will satisfy any prospective buyer. 

What I was particularly amazed by was just how controlled the sound was no matter the volume. Lower bass frequencies really do rumble and vocals in the higher frequency range cut through with clarity and precision. It’s an absolute joy to listen to. 

No matter the genre, the Beosound A5 is ready to deliver it to its absolute best. I sent it bass-heavy dance tracks from the likes of Australian DJs Dom Dolla and Fisher, more intricate vocal performances from Madonna and the Dave Matthews Band, and even some poptastic crowd pleasers from George Michael and Cher. 

Each was delivered with confidence and clarity, with no single frequency overpowering the other. I really wanted to find a chink in the Beosound A5’s beautiful armor, but it was to no avail. Everything and anything was belted out from the unassuming exterior in unison, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable experience song after song. 

Bang & Olufsen’s app helps to further your enjoyment, giving you the ability to adjust and customize the equalizer to your liking. I’d used this feature before when reviewing the Beoplay EX in-ear headphones and so I was pleased to be reunited with it here. 

You’re able to adjust characteristics of the sound with real precision, more than just increasing or decreasing bass and treble for example. You can save any presets you fancy and you can also toggle the Omni 360º sound on or off. 

Turning it off does indeed cause your music to sound more direct, while having it on introduces an extra sense of space. I wouldn’t call it true 360º sound, but the soundstage does indeed become larger. There were instances where I didn’t fully appreciate this more expansive sound I’ll admit, and so I would find myself switching to stereo. The Omni sound can reduce the impact of some recordings, and it can touch upon the outskirts of sounding ‘muddled’. During my listening time, however, this was rare. 

If you do want true Atmos-like audio, then the Sonos Era would be a better choice, as it has actual upfiring drivers.

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Design

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 rear panel

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Portable thanks to battery power and carry handle
  • IP65 protection against water splashes and dust
  • Available in 'silver' and 'black'

Yes, it looks like a basket. Now that’s out of the way, we can get into brass tacks. 

As portable Bluetooth speakers go, the Beosound A5 is actually quite large and heavy, tipping the scales at 3.8kg. You certainly can’t just slip it into your backpack like you can with some other portable Bluetooth speakers. No, if you know you’re going to take this one with you on-the-move, you will appreciate a vehicle to transport it to your destination, although truth be told, I can't see many owners doing even this. 

But this is a Bang & Olufsen product, which means just as much attention has been paid to making it look like a piece of furniture or art, as it has to making it sound superb. For the Beosound A5, B&O has enlisted the services of Danish-Italian design studio GamFratesi, with the two brands collaborating on the overall aesthetic. 

The result is a great one, and I can’t imagine there’ll be many who oppose the looks of the Beosound A5. It’s as minimalist and clean as one should now expect from the premium Danish brand and I love how the grille wrapping around the outside doesn’t immediately give away that it’s a speaker. During my time with the product, the Beosound A5 was nestled away in the corner of my room, slipping in nicely with the overall aesthetic of the space. I’m just as happy to look at it as I am to listen to it. It’s easily the best-looking wireless speaker I’ve personally come across. 

What is perhaps more interesting and impressive, is that B&O has designed the Beosound A5 so that it can be easily repaired – should it ever become necessary – and upgraded. This is thanks to what it calls the Mozart platform. This refers to both the modular and long-lasting design of the Beosound A5, and software updates that allow it to be future-proof. Mozart also, says B&O, helps to reduce the company's environmental impact. B&O says many of the elements of the A5 are replaceable by the user, such as the covers. For more intricate repairs or replacements, Bang & Olufsen is on hand to provide its services. 

On top of the Beosound A5 you’ll find the power button, Bluetooth pairing button, volume controls and four ‘favorite’ buttons. With these, you can save different sound profiles, enabling quick switching depending on the genre of music you’re listening to, or some radio stations. On the top surface is also where you’ll find a Qi wireless charging plate for keeping your smartphone’s battery topped up. It did take me a little bit of trial and error to get my iPhone to register the exact positioning of the charger, but overall it was a pretty seamless experience. Using the wireless charger whilst using the speaker on battery power will naturally eat into the overall battery life of the Beosound A5.  

Speaking of battery power, B&O says the A5 is good for 12 hours of playback (without using the wireless charging plate) and a full recharge via USB-C takes around three hours. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 review: Value

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 speaker on entertainment unit

(Image credit: Future / Max Langridge)
  • Class-leading sound and gorgeous design
  • Flexible connectivity options
  • Price will realistically be too high for most

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 does come with a high price attached and in the current climate, it might not be the absolute best decision to have launched it. But, there is the fact that the realistic target audience for such a speaker is likely going to be those who are in the fortunate position of not needing to look after the pennies as much. 

It must also be said that it really is a phenomenal-sounding speaker, one that I wholeheartedly think deserves its price. When you factor in the sound quality, the beautiful design and the fact it has the Bang & Olufsen name attached, the price starts to become justified. 

I’d say the closest competition to the Beosound A5 would be the likes of the Sonos Era 300 or Apple HomePod 2 from a lifestyle speaker perspective, or the Devialet Mania from a cost perspective. The former two require mains power at all times, while the Devialet offers much in the same way when it comes to sound. It too is able to create a big, wide soundfield – perhaps more impressively since it’s a smaller speaker – and has a similar feature set. 

We’ll do our best to get both speakers side by side for a proper premium portable speaker comparison. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5: Also Consider

How I tested the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5

  • Tested with music from Apple Music, streamed via AirPlay 2 from both my phone and my laptop
  • Used at home, in various rooms and locations within each
  • Tested for two weeks, listened to for around 15 hours total

I’ve had the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 for a couple of weeks, and since it arrived having already been loaned out to other parties, I didn’t feel the need to run it in too much. I did let it play a few songs on a low volume, just to get warmed up. 

I then sat down to listen to it, playing music from both my laptop and my phone using Apple Music and streaming via AirPlay 2. I positioned the Beosound A5 in various places around my main living room, to see if and how it affected the sound output. 

I also experimented to great lengths with changing the equalizer settings within the B&O app. I moved the control wheel around to various spots, changing the sound from bright and energetic, to warm and even to remove bass and treble frequencies, until I could settle on an EQ that best-suited my preferences. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: July 2023
Nothing Ear (2) review: affordable earbuds to rival Sony and Beats
11:30 am | July 5, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Nothing Ear (2): Two-minute review

The Nothing Ear (2) are the latest true wireless buds from cool tech brand Nothing, which mixes out-there design with the tech credentials of OnePlus found Carl Pei.

The Nothing Ear (2) stick with the same form factor as the Nothing Ear (1), but bring some welcome upgrades in the form of a smaller and more robust charging case, added features, slightly bumped up specs and some cool personalization options.

Since then, Nothing has also launched the Nothing Ear Stick, another set of true wireless buds which also sound much better than their sub $100 / £100 price tag would suggest.

The Nothing Ear (2) design is undeniably eye-catching, with a transparent casing and sleek black, white, and red detailing. They fit well too, I found them to be among the most comfortable and stable buds I’ve ever tested.

The ANC performed well, and overall the buds deliver a really enjoyable listen. Features-wise there’s a lot going on, including a high-res audio codec for some handsets, and multipoint pairing for all. 

The only major downside is that the battery life isn't the best – and I imagine some people won’t like the design too, but for what it’s worth I’m a big fan.

There’s a lot to love here, but the Nothing Ear (2) are entering a competitive space. While they come very close to being in our best earbuds or best noise cancelling earbuds guides – they're being edged out at the price by the five-star Sony WF-C700N, which are cheaper and are kind of mind-blowing when it comes to the sound. But they're pretty generic looking – if you want to stand out, the Nothing should be very tempting.

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) earbuds on a table, out of the case

If you’re looking for buds that are a bit different to the sea of AirPods clones on the market, you might just love the Nothing Ear (2). (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Price & release date

  • Released in March 2023
  • Priced at $149 / £129 / AU$219

The Nothing Ear (2) are a little more expensive than the Nothing Ear (1) were when they first came out in 2022, priced at $100 / £100 / AU$150. This makes sense considering there are some solid upgrades in these latest buds, which pushes the Nothing Ear (2) just into the mid-range category. Although it is worth mentioning Nothing had since bumped up the price of the Nothing Ear (1) to $149 / £129 / AU$219 as well.

At this price, there’s fierce competition from buds like the JBL Live Pro 2 at $149.95 / £129.99 / AU$199.95 – which we highly commended for their amazing ANC and powerful audio – or the phenomenal Sony WF-C700N at $119 / £99 / AU$199.

However, the Nothing Ear (2) buds stand their ground, delivering good features and a great design that might not put them head and shoulders above their rivals, but worthy of a position next to them. 

They are obviously much cheaper thatn the AirPods Pro 2 and Sony WF-1000XM4. Do the Nothing Ear (2) perform better? No. But they do offer a range of features and outshine certain top-performing, all-rounders in some categories at half the price.

Nothing Ear (2) review: Specs

Nothing Ear (2) case open on a wooden table

The interior of the charging case is simple, with little color-coordinated dots for each bud. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Features

  • Personalized sound profile
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Below average battery life 

One of the biggest differences between last year’s Nothing Ear (1) and the Nothing Ear (2), is the latest buds bring you a more personalized listening experience. From within the app – which is just as stylish as the buds themselves – you can take a sound personalization test, which promises a more immersive experience while allowing listening at reduced volumes without losing detail. I certainly noticed some added clarity to music after taking it, but would say the difference is subtle. 

You’ll also find a customizable EQ with some presets, ways to change the touch controls and some other handy features you can switch on and off, including in-ear detection – pop a bud out and music pauses – as well as multipoint pairing, which allows you to listen from one device and then quickly switch to another with ease.

The Nothing Ear (2) are Android and iOS friendly. The buds paired quickly with both my iPhone 13 Pro and Nothing Phone (1). There are new Bluetooth specifications in the Nothing Ear (2) buds compared to their predecessors, too. The LHDC 5.0 codec brings high-res audio to some Huawei, Oppo and Nothing smartphones – everyone else gets the standard AAC and SBC codes. There a few extra perks if you’re using a Nothing Phone (1) too, such as automatically engaging a low-latency mode when gaming. 

The buds' accompanying charging case juices up wirelessly or via USB-C. I was disappointed by the battery life from these buds. Four hours from the buds with ANC on is absolutely rock bottom of the market, though 22.5 hours in total with the case isn't bad at all. You’ll get nearly double that battery life from similar-priced rivals such as the Earfun Air Pro 3 and JBL Live Pro 2.

  • Features score: 4/5

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) stem

The buds make the most of their stems with a cool, techy aesthetic. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Sound quality

  • Good noise cancellation
  • Enjoyable sound for everyday listening
  • A little tiring in mid-range vocals

The Nothing Ear (2) buds are not all style over substance. They sound great most of the time, bringing lots of energy and excitement to my favorite tracks. 

I found they had a balanced sound overall and I enjoyed listening to a range of genres with them. For this reason, I’d recommend them as a solid pair of buds for everyday listening.

Powerful and energetic tracks tended to be my favorites to listen to with the Nothing Ear (2). The electronic sound effects in Crystal Castles’ Baptism really popped, the vocals were clear and the bass was thumping without being overpowering – I hit a few new personal bests at the gym when I took these buds and it’s easy to see why. I liked pop music with a heavy bass line too, like The Weeknd’s The Hills and FKA Twigs’ Two Weeks

However, these buds aren’t the best in sonic performance and can’t beat the best options out there – like the Sony WF-1000XM4 – for sheer sound alone. I didn’t feel like there was much of an expansive soundstage here, the audio very much felt like it was coming from inside my head rather than delivering a more natural experience. Of course this is not unexpected from in-ear buds, but some do it better than others.

What’s more, I had issues with some vocals, and the mids more generally, sounding a little brash and tinny at times and distanced at others. This meant I felt a little fatigued by certain tracks that I’d normally love listening to, such as Miley Cyrus’ Flowers

The good news is you can also fine-tune the audio with the app’s EQ settings, which allowed me to smooth out some of the issues I was having. I also enjoyed cranking up the bass and power with the More Bass setting. You can also manually tweak the EQ. This is fun, and you should play around with it because it really added something to certain genres.

With a Nothing phone you’re meant to get the LHDC codec for high-res audio. I did notice a greater level of detail when I used the device, but found the difference to be marginal.

Active noise cancellation was impressive. It’s at a level I’ve come to expect from buds around this price, where it significantly dampens down ambient sound around you. When working in a coffee shop, the conversations close by were all but silent. Higher pitched sounds, like a panini-making machine alarm, were significantly muffled but audible. Commuting is a similar story. Expect to be wrapped up in a bubble of silence most of the time. However car horns and the rumble of heavy lorries on busier roads did seep through.

You can select from High, Mid, Low or Adaptive ANC. Adaptive wasn’t drastically different, but was the option I used the most. You can also select personalized ANC, which is based on your hearing sensitivity and the personalized test I mentioned earlier. Again, I’m not sure I noticed a great deal of difference before and after, but regardless, ANC worked well and it’s a kind I prefer, allowing me to stay vaguely aware of my surroundings.

You won’t get the silence of better noise-cancelling buds, such as the Apple AirPods Pro 2 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, but I wouldn’t have expected that at this price. What you’re getting is ANC that’s more than good enough to make your commute and busy working space more peaceful, which is all most people want.

Like the Nothing Ear (Stick), there’s Clear Voice Technology here, which means there are three high-def mics working to filter out background noises and amplifying your voice so your calls sound clear no matter where you are. I found this to be the case for the most part, although wind did affect the clarity of my voice at the other end.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Design

  • Gorgeous, distinctive look
  • Lightweight (4.5g per bud) and comfortable
  • Unusual charging case design

The Nothing Ear (2) are the most comfortable buds I’ve tested this year – which is saying something considering the amount I’ve twisted into my ear canals over the past few months. 

They also stay put too, even when I took them to the gym during a particularly sweaty workout. What stands out here is that although they stay put, they didn’t give me an uncomfortable build-up of pressure feeling, which some people experience with other brands. In keeping with the customization theme here, there are S, M and L tips to choose from, and an ear tip fit test too. 

The design is the standout feature of the Nothing Ear (2) buds. They look incredibly cool with a mostly transparent outer casing, which means you can see the tech inside along with some simple black, white and red detailing. I’ve tested so many buds that I’ve become a bit desensitized to them (don’t hate me, many do look identical). But the Nothing Ear (2) buds felt special to unbox and use. Granted, other people I asked weren’t so keen, but each to their own.

We didn’t rate the charging case of the Ear (1) last year, saying that it was too big compared to rivals. It’s not been significantly redesigned here, but it’s a little smaller and lighter. Like the buds themselves, it has a transparent design. It’s also rectangular, which is a refreshing change to others on the market. Although it does mean it might not slip in your pocket quite as easily. 

Despite the plastic casing, the buds and case feel very robust and well-made. The buds also have an IP54 rating (the same as the AirPods Pro 2), which means they’re splash proof and perfect for sweaty workouts. The case also has an IP55 rating, which is handy, and not all that common amongst rival buds – it means they can take being splashed.

The Nothing Ear (2) buds have a simple, short-stemmed design. The stem is touch sensitive and this is where the Nothing Ear (2) touch controls live, which you can activate through a series of single, double and triple pinches, which I found handy and responsive. I also liked the tactile feedback and little sounds which accompanied the controls. You can also change these from within the Nothing app.

If you want buds that look different, these are the ones to buy. I loved the look of them, but would have given them a 5/5 rating even if they weren’t my cup of tea because they’re such a refreshing change. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) buds on somone's hand

The Nothing buds started a small revival of see-through tech. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Value

  • A fair bit of competition at this price – but nothing looks as good
  • Good features for a mid-range pair of buds
  • ANC works well here

The Nothing Ear (2) buds don’t outshine all the competition at this price. But if you’re looking for distinctive, stylish headphones that sound good, offer quality ANC and have great features, they’re a solid choice. 

For battery life, sheer sound performance and immersive ANC you’ll need to look elsewhere. However, although some buds at a similar price offer better specs in a few of those areas, you’d have to pay almost double the price to knock the Nothing Ear (2) out of the water completely.

Even then, you’ll be getting a similar experience in terms of comfort and no one is offering a design that is quite so swoon-worthy – no, not even you, Apple.

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Nothing Ear (2)?

Buy them if...

Don't buy it if...

Nothing Ear (2) review: Also consider

How I tested the Nothing Ear (2)

Side profile of woman with Nothing Ear (2) bud in her ear

I enjoyed wearing these buds and found them to be incredibly comfy – even during workouts (Image credit: Becca Caddy)
  • Tested for two weeks
  • Used in a home office, at the gym, working in a coffee shop, on public transport and walks in the countryside
  • Tested with Spotify and Apple Music on iPhone 13 Pro, Nothing Phone (1) and MacBook Air

The Nothing Ear (2) buds went everywhere with me for two weeks. They became my new musical BFFs working in my home office and with me in the gym doing a mix of high and low-intensity training. These were perfect opportunities to test the ANC to see if it could help me focus and the fit and comfort levels to see if they’re suitable for all-day listening and can withstand some sweating at the gym. 

I took the Nothing Ear (2) buds to a crowded coffee shop and on many short and long distance bus and train journeys. This was when ANC was tested against loud conversations, screaming babies, and low, rumbling vehicle noises. 

I also used the buds while walking through the countryside on wet and windy days. Again, this allowed me to test the fit, the ANC, and the sound quality and see how well I could hear (and be heard) during calls. 

To check the sound quality, I listened to a wide range of playlists, including smooth jazz, shouty punk and epic movie scores, on Apple Music and Spotify using my iPhone 13 Pro and a Nothing Phone (1). I also listened to podcasts on Apple Podcasts and audiobooks on Audible. I paired the buds up with my MacBook Air and watched some TV shows on Disney Plus (The Mandalorian) and YouTube tutorials. 

I’ve been writing and testing tech for more than 10 years, focusing mainly on the tech you wear – smartwatches, heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and earbuds – which is why I’m interested in what’s comfortable to wear, easy to fit into your routine and intuitive to use day in and day out.

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: June 2023
Edifier Stax Spirit S3 review: maybe the best-sound wireless headphones you can get
1:55 am | June 5, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Two-minute review

To gaze upon the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 is to see a pair of great-looking, chic, comfortable and portable wireless planar magnetic headphones with hi-res audio certification – and by hi-res, I mean Qualcomm's Snapdragon sound with aptX Adaptive, aptX HD and regular aptX, so they cover all of the current top-tier wireless audio coding. 

They adopt Edifier's latest proprietary planar magnetic technology using 89mm x 70mm planar magnetic driver units, which offer a frequency response of 20Hz~40KHz and I believe deliver some of the most accurate, crisp, meaningful sound reproduction of any of the best wireless headphones market at the price. 

The Stax Spirit S3 support Bluetooth 5.2 for (meaning Auracast will likely soon be on the menu) and you'll get around 80 hours of playtime. Read that again. That's more than any of the best noise-cancelling headphones currently on the market. Also, a short 10-minute charge delivers a whopping 11 hours of playtime and there's a mic for aptX Voice certified call-handling to boot.

But planar magnetic closed-back over-ears with a Bluetooth chipset must mean heavy and cumbersome, right? Not at all. At 329g they're comfortable for all-day use – but if that's just a number, consider that Apple's AirPods Max weigh 55g more at 384g, while Sony's WH-1000XM5 are a little lighter at 249g. Also, they fold up into the headband and come with a refreshingly small hard case for transport.

Confused by the name? You're not alone, so for clarity: these Edifier headphones are not to be wrongly assigned to the STAX brand (although Edifier did acquire this brand name in 2012), although they do use magnetostatic transducers in the "Spirit" of STAX. Also, they have been closely linked to Audeze's Mobius headphones, just with new branding. Got it? Good.

Whatever their heritage, they are all Edifier now – and if you read no further, know that they're a compelling and talented proposition. You even get an additional set of cooling-mesh ear cushions for season-specific on-the-go use, along with a USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm headphone cable for wired listening, a 6.35mm adapter and an 'ear cushion pick' which you'll only need to worry about if you're switching up. 

The Edifier Connect app is acceptable rather than excellent, but it functions without issue and as any audiophile will tell you, companion apps can largely be ignored if the design and sound quality is good enough to avoid fiddling – and that is emphatically the case here. 

Any flies in the ointment? One: no active noise cancellation. Whether or not you really need it when the sound quality and passive isolation is this good is up to you. If you prioritize an expansive soundfield and crisp detail with a more-than healthy bass extension though, put these headphones at the top of your list. 

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 on orange/gray sofa

Good-looking gold accents and herringbone styling on the ear cups, no?  (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Price & release date

  • Released on February 24, 2022
  • Priced $399 / £330 / approx. AU$640

The Stax Spirit S3 were released in early 2022, and as such there might be a little bit of wiggle room on the prices above – but not a lot.

This not insubstantial pricing puts them bang up against some of the best and most heavy-hitting over-ear headphones in the business, including the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399 / £380 / AU$649), the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless ($349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95) and the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 ($399 / £379 / approx. AU$575). 

Tough company to keep, especially when you consider that active noise cancellation doesn't feature. But sonically, they're more than up to it. 

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 close-up, showing the multi-function button, on orange background

Check out the excellent padding – but the multi-function button is a tad unreliable. (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Specs

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 headphones folded, on blue sofa

How's that for portability? A great proposition for the commute. (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Features

  • Incredibly long battery life
  • Bluetooth multipoint
  • Somewhat limited in-app EQ presets

As stamina claims go, 80 hours is insatiable in almost any arena, but particularly concerning wireless headphones – and during my time with them I actually gleaned just over 90 hours from them before they seemed even a bit tired. It's rare that during the course of a review I need only charge a set of over-ears once, and even then only for 10 minutes or so – thus netting a further 11 hours. 

These headphones are very easy to pair, very quick on the uptake where the app is concerned and easy to use, too. Multipoint? Completed it; soon I'm happily chopping and changing between my phone and my laptop all the livelong day. 

As you might have spotted, there's no ANC or Ambient awareness here, and no auto-off functionality, but that doesn't mean Edifier sees no reason for a companion app. The Edifier Connect app is fine, but that's as far as I can go. It tries to cajole you into buying Edifier products a little too readily (with two "Discover" and "Mall" tabs at the bottom of the landing page sending you off to discover and shop Edifier exclusively), but the headphones tab gives a good battery life indicator and interestingly, asks you to confirm whether you've fitted the "Leather earmuffs" or "Ice feeling earmuffs" in order to better tailor the sound. 

There's an unusual "Soothing sounds" section tab in the top right, which offers a plethora of free soundscapes such as "summer night" (no, not the song from Grease) "lapping waves" and even a mewing cat. I mean, it adds a modicum of value, perhaps. The app also displays the music currently playing in the way your streaming service does and in the settings tab, you can customise the volume of vocal prompts and tweak the functionality of double and triple presses between pause/play, gaming mode, sound effects (more on this in a moment) or voice assistant access. Call quality? Splendid – clear and snag free. 

The EQ presets are a let-down, though. The second, swipe-left screen within the app is labelled "Sound Effects" and it lets you pick between "Classic", "Hi-Fi" and "STAX" profiles. There's no tablature for this, though, and while Classic is a hands-down favorite owing to its extra modicum of warmth and zeal, STAX feels borderline tinny and hi-fi lacks a bit of oomph but doesn't unearth any extra iotas of detail – because these are already supremely detailed cans sonically. What I'm saying is, giving users the option of five- or even three-band sliders to augment certain frequencies would be preferable. 

The third screen is purely for gaming mode on, or off, which is all well and good. In the end, though, dedicated audiophiles will doubtless try not to touch such fripperies; happily, the sound quality here is good enough that bypassing the app entirely is no bad thing. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 case, on orange and gray sofa

This case is about half the size of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and I loved taking it with me. (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Sound quality

  • Divinely detailed and revealing
  • Snappy bass extension; depth in spades
  • An expressive and dynamically agile listen

They sound so good, these. Oh, you need more words? Right then. 

Bruce Springsteen's re-release of Darkness on the Edge of Town live with with the E-Street Band (streamed; a Tidal Master file) is brimming with emotion, revealing any minor deviations in the keys and raucousness from the excitable crowd in a gloriously detailed mix. 

Burna Boy's Anybody on Apple Music (a Lossless file) unearths emotion and textures in the vocal rarely heard at this level and there's a glorious three-dimensional quality to the drums and sax solo, even as the percussion goes low. 

Nicki Minaj's Super Bass (Tidal HiFi) bursts through with a juicy, full and cohesive mix that darts between each ear with the kind of spritely agility normally seen in wired headphones at double the price. 

Gerry Cinnamon's Belter is a lovely example of pared back rhythmic guitars and backing vocals, which are expertly layered and relayed here with ample space around each element to shine. If anything, the added stems here as the track progresses (the crack of a whip, a chanting crowd, the shake of a rattlesnake's tail) feel a little lonely – but that's certainly not a criticism where the Edifiers are concerned; quite the opposite. Because these headphones can do so much more. 

Is it the same with a wired 3.5mm connection? Not quite. The presentation lacks just a little conviction when physically wired to a Sony Xperia or an iPhone – although that's something that few of us will do, given the incredible battery life and convenience offered here. And in case it needs to be re-stated, there's no USB audio option. 

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

Edifier Stax worn by Becky Scarrott, around the neck to show that the earcups rotate out, rather than in

Thing is, it is a bit odd for earcups to rotate this way when not being worn…  (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Design

  • Additional pair of cooler earcups supplied
  • Foldable design
  • Multi-function button is a shade off excellent 

If you miss folding headphones (not seen in the heavy-hitter arena since the Sony WH-1000XM4), they're back here and it does make taking them on your commute – or in your hand luggage – much easier. The supplied case is only about a half to two-thirds the size of the ones supplied with products such as the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Focal Bathys or newer Fairphone FairBuds XL

The design here feels light and cool, with optimal clamping force, and the lovely herringbone accents and gold branding on the black earcups make for a chic aesthetic – though vegans should note that these do include real leather. 

The ear cups angle forward just slightly and the headband is nicely padded over the crown, which makes these cans feel well weighted and good for longer listening sessions. And the sound bleed? Minimal; people on desks next to me couldn't hear my tracks at 50% volume in the office. 

There are some minor drawbacks. The ear cups rotate to lie flat around your neck when not being worn, but only outwards, which feels entirely wrong for those planar magnetic drivers. The headband is also overly clicky when adjusting for size; a pet peeve but the noise does impact your listening pleasure. Lastly, the multi-function button and volume buttons either side of it are just a bit hit and miss for this level. It's a critique I also levelled at the more-expensive Focal Bathys, but when a long press is meant to turn the headphones off and sometimes, this just doesn't seem to work, it's worth mentioning it. 

Overall though, it's important to state that these are a good-looking, comfortable set of over-ears. Furthermore, their portable design, coupled with the splendid sound quality, makes me grab them over several other sets when heading out. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 on orange/gray sofa

That headband can be a bit noisy and clicky when adjusting, but it's a fairly minor gripe in an attractive set of headphones (Image credit: Future)

Edifier Stax Spirit S3: Value

  • Sound quality that's impossible to beat at the level
  • A great gateway planar magnetic design
  • No ANC impacts value for some

What you must know is that if you want ANC over-ears, your money is not well spent here. There is no active noise cancellation. 

Buying headphones almost always involves some sort of compromise (a dearth in call quality, omission of a codec, lack of water resistance), but for sound-per-pound clarity and quality in a planar magnetic wireless design, the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 are almost impossible to equal. 

The detailed, expansive and energetic sound is the star here and for me, that's just fine – plus it lasts and lasts (and lasts), for days. The case is beautifully light and compact – I have to say that I've taken these headphones on a flight and loved the experience, despite the lack of noise cancellation. 

Then again, the app is a long way from excellent and the EQ presets are somewhat eccentric, plus I do find myself wondering why the ear cups turn outwards when I take them off quickly to leave them around my neck. 

Depending on your priorities, the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 still represent a top and TechRadar recommended buy – it just might be that a lack of noise cancellation means they're not the right pick for you.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Edifier Stax Spirit S3?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Edifier Stax Spirt S3 review: Also consider

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 worn by Becky Scarrott, in profile, on orange background

They're comfy cans and no mistake (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Edifier Stax Spirit S3

  • Bulk of testing done using an iPhone 12, running Edifier Connect app, firmware version 1.0.2
  • Tested across two weeks, listened against the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and Focal Bathys
  • Used at work (in the office; walking through London; on a train) on a flight and at home
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music, Qobuz and Spotify on an iPhone 12, a Sony Xperia 1 V and MacBook Pro

As is always the case, to test headphones is to invite them into your life. These cans became my daily musical companion – after a thorough 48-hour run-in period, of course. And very welcome the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 were. 

They accompanied me to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) on a flight to and from Munich and throughout a long Bank Holiday weekend at Climping Beach on the UK coastline – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

To better test the comfort levels (and battery life claims), I wore them throughout the working day too – and they never disappointed me or let me down. 

To check the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists (spanning everything from acid jazz to thrash metal) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – plus of course YouTube tutorials (mostly about calibrating a tricksy tonearm on a deck which will remain anonymous) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but portability and comfort come a close second. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: June 2023
1More Aero review: budget-friendly head-tracked spatial audio on a budget
5:46 pm | March 23, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

1More Aero: Two-minute review

1More is an audio tech brand that hasn’t produced devices on a par with big names such as Sony, Bose or even JBL – at least not yet. But over the past few years it has been releasing both over-ear headphones and true wireless earbuds that have held their own in a crowded market, including the 1More Evo, 1More Sonoflow and 1More ComfoBuds Mini. So how do the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds compare? 

The good news is that the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds are the definite step up from 2022’s 1More ComfoBuds Pro that 1More claims they are. They’re solid all-rounders that offer an impressive set of features for their price. I enjoyed the good overall sound quality on offer, ANC works well and battery life is… fine. I also liked the fit and the tapered stem design that 1More first debuted with the ComfoBuds Pro – although that’s down to personal preference.

However, there are many true wireless earbuds to choose from these days, from the best true wireless earbuds your money can buy through to the best budget wireless earbuds for those who want a cheaper alternative. So what sets the 1More Aero apart from the rest? The answer is spatial audio, which makes it seem as if you’re hearing sound from all around you in a three-dimensional space – and crucially here, it even alters you turn your head from the source device.

There’s a lot to love about the 1More Aero buds, but spatial audio for around $100/£100 is the main selling point here. But although I certainly enjoyed listening to my favorite tracks with spatial audio switched on, does everyone really need spatial audio? Read on to find out more in this 1More Aero review. 

Someone holding one of the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds with the charging case in the background.

The first thing you’ll notice about the 1More Aero is those stems, which are tapered at the ends. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca Caddy)

1More Aero review: Price & release date

  • Cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182
  • Released in October 2022

The 1More Aero true wireless earbuds were released in October 2022 and cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182. Hovering around the $100/£100 mark makes the 1More Aero a similar price compared to rivals and they just qualify for TechRadar's best budget earbuds category. However, the competition is pretty fierce at this level. 

The most obvious competition comes from the Earfun Air Pro 3. TechRadar also described these buds as good all-rounders and they cost $99/£99 at launch – although you can find them a little cheaper now. The Air Pro 3 buds offer a similar sound and ANC experience, as well as a significantly longer battery life, but you won’t get spatial audio. 

To get the spatial audio feature you’ll find in the 1More Aero, instead you’d need to spend significantly more for alternatives, like the LG Tone Free T90Q ($229.99 / £199.98) and Sony WF-1000XM4s ($279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95). More on whether the 1More Aero buds perform at the levels of these higher-end options soon…

1More Aero review: Specs

The 1More Aero earbuds pictured on a wooden surface next to their charging case.

I really love the design of these buds, but appreciate they won’t be for everyone – especially if you don’t like stems. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca Caddy)

1More Aero review: Features

  • Head-tracked spatial audio is the star of the show
  • ANC works well 
  • Smart Loudness tech is handy

Before I even put the 1More Aero to the test, I was impressed with the range of features on offer here, many of which can be tweaked within the 1More app, which I found clear and easy to use. 

The first noteworthy feature is ANC. During my testing, I found noise cancelling to be generally impressive. There are four levels of ANC to choose from, but I opted for the highest level ‘Strong’ the most often. Because why put ANC on if you’re not going to put it ON, right? Although if you work in an office and need varying levels, the choice might be handy for you. 

ANC was effective, drowning out conversations in a coffee shop completely. Difficult, higher-pitched sounds, like an alarm and toddler screaming, were muffled but still audible. And deep rumbling sounds, like a train and a fan, were still detectable a little, but everything was significantly dulled. If you’re looking for buds to simply lessen the chatter at work, these will do nicely. There’s also a transparency mode, which is handy for conversations, but I found it easier to just pop one of the buds out instead of faffing with my phone. 

Something I haven’t seen before is a Smart Loudness feature, which you can switch on and off and then use a slider to amp up. This is to keep the bass, mids and trebles detectable at low volumes, but it was hit-and-miss. If you listen to music at lower volumes it’s worth turning on, especially to reintroduce bass, but it wasn’t a feature that wowed me.

You can control the buds via touch controls on the stems and you can customize what these do via the app – although there’s no option to decline a call. These controls worked well most of the time, but sometimes weren’t as responsive and sensitive as I'd have liked. I found myself getting my phone out to make adjustments instead.

Within the app (oddly, under 'Experimental Features') there’s the option to switch on multipoint pairing, allowing you to move between audio input devices. Although there was a slight lag as I switched between a phone and a laptop, it did work and it’s a feature that’s incredibly handy – especially when working on my laptop, then taking a voice call on my phone, then moving back to the laptop to listen to music or join yet another video call. 

In terms of battery life, you’ll get 7 hours from the buds with ANC off and 5 hours with ANC on. I found these estimates from 1More to be bang on during my testing. You can get 28 hours in total from the case and buds combined, with ANC off. That’s a decent amount of battery life, but can be bested by similar-priced rivals, like the EarFun Air Pro 3 that gives you 9 hours from the buds and 36 hours from the case with ANC off. Or the JBL Live Pro 2 buds, which offer 40 hours of listening time in total. And TechRadar's pick of the bunch here is the far cheaper Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which will bag you 35 hours in High Performance mode, or 45 in Low Power mode… 

  • Features score: 5/5

The 1More Aero true wireless earbuds in their charging case

We like the clam shell style design of the 1More Aero charging case. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca Caddy)

1More Aero review: Sound quality

  • Enjoyable sound
  • ANC isn’t great but it’s good enough
  • Spatial audio is fun – especially for TV, movies and games

Overall, I found the 1More Aero buds an enjoyable listen. I felt that way across the genres too – noting a really nice balance, with crisp highs and crystal clear vocals, underpinned by more than enough bassline rumble underneath when it was needed. 

There was a real smoothness and warmth to some of my favorite tracks, too, like Tango by Onyx Collective. When I listened to big, classical tracks, like Johann Johannsson’s score for Arrival, I occasionally yearned for a wider, more expansive listen, which I've experienced with other buds at the level (see the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro). But I was impressed with the power and bass these little buds delivered through their solid low end, handling such epic and eerie instrumental tracks well.

You can tweak the sound, too. Within the 1More app there’s an equalizer you can manually adjust, as well as a bunch of EQ presets, including Studio and Classical. I enjoyed testing some of these and recommend you do the same, although some seemed a bit heavy-handed. Case in point: Bass Booster with Latto x Mariah Carey’s Big Energy made the bassline sound, well… a bit silly, like I was listening to a boomy sample track on a keyboard. The same goes for Vocal Booster, and Pop, which was very tinny. Then again, putting Bass Booster on for the Arrival soundtrack actually added to the drama. The lesson here is, you’ll need to play around with the settings to see what suits you – and you might need to do that each time you switch genres. 

On the subject of settings, switch spatial audio on and you’re in for a 360-degree sound treat. I mostly felt as if positional audio was accurate, so sounds came from a central stage or instruments around me. There’s head tracking here too, which essentially means that as well as feeling like sound is all around you, to some extent, you’re moving around it too.

I probably enjoyed spatial audio the most when watching TV shows and movies. For example, I watched The Mandalorian with the 1More Aeros and replayed a scene when the Razor Crest landed with and without spatial audio. It was subtle, but definitely created more of a cinematic, stereo sound feel than I'm used to.

Back to music, putting on spatial audio halfway through De La Soul’s Supa Emcees and selecting the Hip-Hop EQ preset was a pleasing upgrade. The track came alive more than ever. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it genuinely felt like I’d gone from listening to a track positioned directly in front of me to hearing it performed on a stage above me – exactly what you want from spatial audio. 

I felt the same about pop music. Miley Cyrus’ Flowers was noticeably elevated with spatial audio switched on. I then chose the Deep preset for added bass and Studio for a more neutral listen. The energy of this track was simply phenomenal. The best earbuds can help you notice things about your favorite tracks you haven’t before. 

Having said that, not all music was as sparkly and elevated with spatial audio – even tracks optimized for it – and I did prefer the spatial audio experience with other buds, like the LG Tone Free T90Q, as they provided a more consistent and convincing sound. Then again, that was for almost double the price. 

I did wonder whether the wow factor of spatial audio had already faded. This might be because, other than the EQ settings, you can’t change anything else about how spatial audio or head tracking works, which it would have been nice to adjust. Then again, this is an affordable application of spatial audio, so I really am being picky. 

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

The 1More Aero earbuds pictured on a wooden surface next to their charging case.

Each 1More Aero bud weighs 4.9g, making them lightweight and therefore comfy enough to wear for hours at a time.  (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca Caddy)

1More Aero review: Design

  • Teardrop design 
  • Light at 4.9g per bud
  • They stay put

Like a lot of true wireless earbuds on the market at the moment, the 1More Aero buds have a stem-like design. At first glance they may look very similar to other buds, like the Apple AirPods Pro, but they’re a little different in that they’re teardrop-shaped with tapered ends. I like this small design quirk when other brands are just copying and pasting the AirPods design, but appreciate they may not be for everyone. 

The buds are light at 4.9g each, which makes them easy to wear for long periods. In fact, I had no trouble keeping them in for most of the working day and you have S, M, L and XL tips to choose from to find the perfect fit. The silicone tips I selected created a decent seal. They came a little loose when I wore them for more than 30 minutes, and I did knock the stems a couple of times, but this experience was no different to all of the other true wireless earbuds I’ve tested. 

There’s an IPX5 rating here, which means these buds are not fully waterproof but are certainly sweat-proof and rain-proof, which makes them a good option if you’re looking for a pair of workout buds. Although they did budge enough for me to keep securing them during a jog and when I was trying to perfect my downward-facing dog, although not enough to fall out.

The buds come with a charging case that’s small enough to slide into a pocket and weighs 45.2g. It has a clamshell-style design which I personally prefer to the pill-shaped box that seems to have become standard from rival brands. My only criticism of the case is the magnets that keep the buds in place could have been a bit stronger, they felt weak compared to similar devices I've tested.

  • Design score: 4/5

The 1More Aero true wireless earbuds pictured in the palm of someone's hand.

The design of the 1More Aero buds is similar to the Apple AirPods, but with a more tear-shaped tip. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca caddy)

1More Aero review: Value

  • Cheaper buds offer improvements in some areas
  • You’d have to pay much more for spatial audio

As a whole package, the 1More Aero buds are good value. They offer everything most people need from a pair of buds, including good audio and ANC, decent battery life and a comfortable fit. However, in some areas other buds shine. For example, if you want a longer battery life or a bump in ANC, there are better alternatives at a similar price – look to the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro or JBL Live Pro 2 for starters. 

That said, if you want that top-tier spatial audio feature, you’d have to pay significantly more. So in that respect, they’re great value. The question you need to ask yourself is: do you really need head-tracked spatial audio? It’s fun at first, and certainly improves the experience of TV shows and movies, but I'm not convinced it’s a must-have for everyone. 

So are the 1More Aero good value? That entirely depends on what you’re looking for. 

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the 1More Aero?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

1More Aero review: Also consider

How I tested the 1More Aero

Becca with the 1More Aero earbuds in her ears

I spent a week testing the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds, taking them with me everywhere I went – on a bus, to the gym, running along the beach.  (Image credit: Future/TechRadar/Becca Caddy)
  • Tested for 7 days
  • Used working at a coffee shop, while working out at home and on a few bus and train journeys
  • Mostly tested with Apple Music and iPhone 13 Pro

To test the 1More Aero buds, I took them with them everywhere over the course of a week. They came with me while working at a coffee shop, on long walks through a town, on the bus and train to meetings and kept me occupied during workouts, too. 

I’m always keen to see how true wireless buds fare over long periods, so I can really test their comfort levels and make sure the battery claims are accurate. So I kept them in for hours on end, while going from working to walking to working out. 

I mostly used the buds to listen to a range of playlists on Apple Music, but also used them to listen to audiobooks, stream podcasts and watch a few TV shows – a good chance to see how spatial audio compares with different types of sound.

I’ve been testing audio products and wearable devices for around ten years now. I like to focus on how comfortable tech is and how easy it is to use.

  • First reviewed: March 2023
EarFun Air Pro 3 review: the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds you can get
6:55 pm | February 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

EarFun Air Pro 3: Two-minute review

The EarFun Air Pro 3 are the latest affordable noise-cancelling buds from a company that makes some of the best budget wireless earbuds around. EarFun has released several pairs of earbuds that we rated highly, including the original EarFun Air Pro and EarFun Air S, all delivering decent sound and fantastic value.

The EarFun Air Pro 3 build on this further, all for under $100 / £100. In terms of design, they're more elegant-looking than their predecessors, and although they feel a little cheap, that means a light and comfortable fit that stayed put throughout the day when I tested them… with one notable exception that I'll come to. 

The EarFun Air Pro 3's ANC (active noise cancellation) isn't on par with the best noise-cancelling earbuds available today, but they cost less than half as much as most, and the decent level of quiet offered here should be good enough to focus at work or keep most sounds dampened down when you’re travelling. It's impressive for the price. 

The same goes for audio. If you’re after detailed and audiophile-grade sound, look to rivals instead. The EarFun Air Pro 3 won’t beat the top-performing buds in our best wireless earbuds guide, but I liked their punchy sound and found them fun to listen to. 

There’s a great battery life on offer here – nine hours from the buds and an additional 36 from the case – as well as multipoint pairing. There are also some next-gen features available that we couldn’t test yet, but may soon make these buds even more special, including support for the highly-anticipated Bluetooth LE Audio tech. 

No one feature stood out when I was testing the EarFun Air Pro 3. Instead, these buds are brilliant all-rounders, delivering everything most people would need from a pair of true wireless earbuds today all for well under $100/£100. But there are other options that may tempt you: the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus are better sounding, but with no ANC; the JBL Live Pro 2 feature better noise cancellation, but cost a little more.

Earfun Air Pro 3 buds held in a hand above a wooden table

There's a lot of tech packed into the affordable EarFun Air Pro 3. (Image credit: Future)

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Price & release date

  • Released in January 2023
  • Costs $99 / £99 at launch but discounted already
  • No Australian availability at time of writing

The EarFun Air Pro 3 true wireless earbuds were launched in January 2023. They originally cost $99 / £99, but they’ve been reduced to $79 /£79 on the Earfun website and other third party retailers at the time of writing, so that's clearly a price to expect them to hit regularly. As we publish, there’s no news on Australian availability.

Their sub-$100/£100 price tag puts the EarFun Air Pro 3 at a similar price as some of our favorite budget earbuds, like the ​​Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW. But although we rated the sound of the Audio-Technica buds, there are more features on offer from the EarFun Air Pro 3, most notably ANC. 

Having spent a few weeks testing them, I'd say that the EarFun Air Pro 3 are similar in terms of sound, ANC, specs and even design as the JBL Live Pro 2, but at $149 / £129 / AU$199, the JBL are significantly more expensive.

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Specs

Earfun Air Pro 3 case closed on wooden table

The EarFun Air Pro 3 case isn't as small as some, but is reasonably compact. (Image credit: Future)

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Features

  • Great battery life 
  • Multipoint pairing and active noise cancellation
  • Bluetooth LE Audio support could be a game-changer

For the price, there are a lot of features on offer here. I like that the EarFun Air Pro 3 have multipoint pairing, allowing you to listen to music on your laptop and then easily switch to say taking a call on your phone. During testing, this worked well and was seamless most of the time. 

In terms of controls and customization, the EarFun Air Pro 3 buds come with an app that’s minimal but has everything you need. There are also controls at the top of the stems. At times, these touch controls required a slower, more deliberate press to work. That’s fine, but not ideal given they’re there to be used intuitively. I did like that you can customize their actions from within the app. 

It’s a shame there are no sensors that know when you take out the buds and pause the audio. That feature isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is one you don’t realize is incredibly handy until it’s not there.

The battery life of the EarFun Air Pro 3 is among the best you’ll find from a pair of true wireless buds. EarFun promises nine hours from the buds and a further 36 from the charging case. That’s a mega-impressive 45 hours in total. Of course, that’s with ANC off. With it on, we’re talking seven hours in the buds and 37 hours in total. I got 6.5 hours with ANC on at a high volume, which I still found impressive.

This is a similar battery life to some of our favorite buds, like the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, although they don’t have ANC. It’s also just a little less than our current mid-range favorites, the JBL Live Pro 2, which offer up 40 hours of battery life in total. So considering the EarFun Air Pro 3 are budget buds with ANC, they outperform much of the competition. 

The EarFun Air Pro 3 feel like a truly modern pair of buds in terms of specs, and one feature is so cutting edge I couldn’t even test it: next-gen Bluetooth LE Audio technology. This is a new Bluetooth standard that promises to upgrade the way we listen to music, including improved sound quality and battery life. The problem? No smartphones are compatible yet. 

There’s also support for a feature called Auracast. This allows you to jump between audio playing from different devices, so you can seamlessly listen to what your friends are listening to or what’s playing in a public space – again, though, there's no support in the wild yet.

That’s not all. The buds also support Qualcomm’s apt-X Adaptive audio codec, which is capable of delivering CD-quality 16-bit.44.1kHz audio over Bluetooth. This also provides low-latency performance when streaming from devices that support the Qualcomm standard.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Earfun Air Pro 3 close up in case on wooden table

With aptX and Bluetooth LC3 support, the EarFun Air Pro 3 are all set for Hi-Res audio. (Image credit: Future)

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Sound quality

  • Fun but not fantastic sound
  • Adjustable EQ
  • ANC is good

The EarFun Air Pro 3 buds were powerful and punchy right out of the gate. I listened to Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen and For What It’s Worth, and the signature sound was spot on, perfectly suited to these iconic tracks with big, booming vocals. 

I found this to be the case across any genre that was all about the power and the bass, these buds handle the lower end well most of the time. Other tracks felt a little muddied or just didn’t suit the boom and the energy these buds excel in. Don’t get me wrong, they were still an enjoyable listen, but I couldn’t pick out the details or hear the precision of certain vocals or instruments as much as I can with higher-performing rivals. 

I felt this acutely with Hildur Guðnadóttir and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Good Night, Day. This beautiful strings piece builds power and energy throughout, but I didn’t hear that instrumental distinction with the Air Pro 3 quite as much as I'd really like. 

At times there’s also a noticeable boom and even a rattle on the bass when you push to high volumes which, after listening for more than an hour straight, can be a bit too much. I found this to be particularly the case with ANC on.

If you want powerful sound, you’ll love them. If you like to appreciate the details of a mix, you might find them lacking. There is an equalizer on offer here that you can customize to a degree. There are also some presets, like bass boost. But I didn’t notice much of a difference when I tried them and preferred the signature profile for the most part. 

You won’t get that silent cocoon of sound type of ANC that’s typical of more expensive earbuds from these EarFun buds. But you get a sufficient level of ANC. The buds block a decent amount of bass range sounds, like the rumble of traffic. I tested them in a busy coffee shop and although all chatter wasn’t silenced, a noisy conversation next to me was significantly dampened down so as not to be annoying. You’d need to bump up in price to get noticeably better ANC.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Earfun Air Pro 3 buds on wooden table

The shiny stem on the EarFun Air Pro 3 helps them look more premium. (Image credit: Future)

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Design

  • Long stem design
  • Look fancier than they are
  • Very light

When you first pick up these buds you’ll notice they feel plasticky – by which I mean: cheap – but that’s kind of good news as they’re also incredibly light at 52g for both buds and case. This is subjective, but I find the lighter the bud, the more comfy the fit. 

I achieved a good seal from the tips that came with the buds and chose the smallest size. They stayed secure and in place most of the time, but I did experience a bit of slipping when I wore them for a long time and when I took them on a run. To be fair, that’s pretty decent considering these aren’t workout buds. I only had to adjust them a few times and they do have an IPX5 rating, which makes them sweatproof and worth considering if you’re looking for a spare pair of buds for the gym.   

They have a shiny black plastic design on the back, which I didn’t like, but that’s the bit that sits against your ear. What sticks out is a long, mirrored stem with gesture controls at the top end and the EarFun logo at the button. This shiny finish is subtle and makes the buds look much more premium than their price tag suggests. 

However, the stem is long, and although the seal of the tips was great ,the stems affected it several times. This was particularly the case with long hair. When I wore my hair down around the buds, then pushed my hair out of the way, it got caught on the stems and the buds came loose. Not everyone will have this problem and I learned to be careful, especially outside. But I've tested a lot of true wireless earbuds at this point and never had this problem in the past. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Earfun Air Pro 3 buds close up on wooden table

As all-rounders, the EarFun Air Pro 3 are hard to beat. (Image credit: Future)

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Value

  • Possibly the best sub-$100/£100 buds I’ve tried
  • You have to pay at least $50/£50 more for comparable features
  • You’d need to be sure about the design

The EarFun Air Pro 3 buds perform well in every respect, but in terms of value they’re fantastic. Although their inner shiny plastic finish may give away that they’re cheap, as does their weight, the simple mirror design of the stems makes them look much more premium than they should when you wear them. 

The ANC might not be the best, but I think it’ll suit most everyday scenarios and it’s often rare to get solid ANC with a sub-$100/£100 price tag. Just look at two of our current budget favorites, the ​​Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW and Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which excel in some areas more than the Air Pro 3, but don’t have ANC. 

Battery life is fantastic, multipoint pairing is handy and the Bluetooth LE Audio support will hopefully make these buds even more of a no-brainer proposition as the tech rolls out more widely. 

All in all, these buds won’t beat higher-end buds and sound is only fine, but in terms of what you get for what you pay in total, they're pretty much unmatched.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the EarFun Air Pro 3?

Buy them if...

Don't buy it if...

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Also consider

How I tested the EarFun Air Pro 3

Earfun Air Pro 3 worn in the ears of a woman outdoors on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for 10 days
  • Used in home office, working at a coffee shop, the gym, countryside walk, public transport in a busy town
  • Mostly tested with Apple Music and iPhone 13 Pro

In order to put the EarFun Air Pro 3 buds through their paces, I used them in a range of different environments as I went about my daily routine over the course of 10 days. I took them to the gym when I worked out, on a walk through the countryside, while travelling by both train and bus, and out on lots of walks around suburban areas at all times of day.

These are true wireless earbuds designed to be worn for long periods, so I kept them on when transitioning from a walk outside to working back at my desk again. This was a good opportunity to try out multipoint pairing, moving from listening to a podcast and taking calls on my phone to watching videos on my laptop. 

I mostly listened to Apple Music, but also streamed podcasts, audiobooks and watched videos too – I also used them as I caught up on the latest episode of The Last of Us.

I’ve been testing audio products and wearable tech for around a decade, particularly focusing on the devices that can accompany you on walks and workouts, as well as general ease of use and comfort.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: February 2023
Sony WH-CH520 review: some of the best cheap headphones you can buy
7:00 pm | February 21, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

The Sony WH-CH520 are the new super-affordable headphones in Sony's wireless lineup, coming in at $60 / £60. They're on-ear Bluetooth headphones, and while, as you might expect at this price, you're not getting active noise cancellation or Hi-Res Audio support, their focus on sound (and a few useful tricks) means they're still fantastic value.

I don't mind at all when the manufacturers of the best cheap headphones put everything into audio quality, and though the sound here obviously isn't going to blow minds for the price, I could happily listen to it all day. After activating DSEE (more on that shortly), I can't fault the balance between bass, mids and treble; all are equally represented and clear, and the Sony WH-CH520 deliver a nice dose of detail.

The bass underpins things well, adding depth while staying controlled, and letting you have some fun with electronic or dance music. The mids are capable of letting vocals stretch their legs, and giving dense instrument mixes a chance to stand out, although obviously more detail is lost here than in higher-end models. And trebles elevate out of the mid-range well, feeling like they have enough room to breathe.

More expensive options in our list of the best wireless headphones don't just add extra clarity; they'll also feel more natural and offer more dynamic range, with deeper bass and brighter highs. When it comes down to it, the sound here is more constrained and compressed than it is from better headphones – but I'm very happy with the audio you get here for the price. And even better is the fact that you can use Sony's Headphones app to tweak the EQ if you want, and this is actually more effective than in most headphones I've used, cheap or expensive. 

It feels like your adjustments are changing the balance optimally, not just bluntly stamping down on the bass or cranking up the treble (or whatever change you choose to make). It has presets, or you can create your own – in the end I chose to just boost the bass a little to suit my tastes using the Clear Bass option, but almost all of my testing was done at the standard settings.

One thing I will note about the sound, though, is that it really opens up once you're listening at about 40% volume; lower than that and it sounds a little more compressed.

Also in the Headphones app, you've got the option to turn on DSEE, and I recommend doing this. This is basically an 'upscaler' for music, with Sony claiming that it can add detail back into Bluetooth-quality streaming. I didn't really feel any difference with detail in the music I listened to, but it did immediately add some warmth to the mid-range that was a small but clear improvement.

Sony WH-CH520 headphones on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Compared to the Sony CH510 that the Sony CH520 replace, there's more cushioning, which is always appreciated in the best on-ear headphones as their design means their earpads sit directly on your ears, which not everyone loves. In fact, I personally avoid them, because I find them less comfortable than the best over-ear headphones – however, I was able to wear the CH520 more happily than most I've tested. There's a fairly notable clamping from the headband on the sides of the head, so people with larger-than-average heads might not love them, but I think they'll go down great with people with smaller skulls.

Despite the cushioning, they're not very noise-blocking (and there's no active noise cancellation), so keep that in mind if you're looking for something for your commute.

The shell is a textured plastic, and feels really well made. It doesn't feel super-premium, but it doesn't feel cheap by any measure either. There are buttons on the bottom of the right-hand earcup for play/pause, volume control and track skipping, and a double-press of the Play button triggers your phone's voice assistant.

The CH520 support Bluetooth multi-point pairing, which is always useful – it means you can rapidly switch between your phone and your laptop for a video call, for example. I had no problems with reliability here, or with their connectivity in general.

Sony's claim of a 50-hour battery life is the icing on the cake, and in my experience that seems about right – though with the caveat that they don't auto-pause when you remove them, and they stay on for a long time when not in use, so if you're not careful you could accidentally run them down.

They charge over USB-C, and come with a short USB-C to USB-A cable in the box. There's no 3.5mm jack option here, sadly, so keep that mind if you want something for a flight or similar, but I doubt it will bother most people looking at these cans.

There is a mic on the Sony WH-CH520 – literally one microphone, and it's best described as "functional" – it's quiet, and not especially clear.

Sony WH-CH520 headphones on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Sony WH-CH520 review: Price & release date

  • $60 / £60
  • Launched on Feb 21st 2023

At a highly affordable $60 / £60, the CH520 are firmly aimed at those on a budget. Rivals at this price include the Anker Life Q30 or JBL Tune 710BT, if we're talking about stuff from known brands. Obviously, Amazon is full of cheaper options from names you just saw for the first time.

None of these products is full of bells and whistles given the price, and neither are the Sony CH520, but the app still provides some nice control and additions.

Sony WH-CH520 review: Specs

Should you buy the Sony WH-CH520?

Buy them if...

You want balanced sound for less
There's none of the bass overload you get on some cheaper headphones in an effort to make them sound more exciting – these are made to handle all kinds of music well.

You need long, long battery life
50 hours! You won't need to charge these very often, so if you're the forgetful type, that's a bonus.

You want to switch between devices
Bluetooth multi-point pairing makes these ideal for anyone who switches between listening to their phone and their laptop/tablet a lot.

Don't buy them if...

You need noise-blocking power
With no ANC and not especially noise-isolating earpads, you will hear outside sounds – especially loud vehicles.

You don't find on-ear headphones comfortable
Despite the extra padding, if you usually prefer over-ear headphones, these won't change your mind.

You're want to go audiophile for less
I like the sound here a lot for the price, but if you're an audiophile on a budget,you should look at going wired – you'll get better sound for the same price.

Sony WH-CH520: Also consider

How I tested the Sony WH-CH520

Sony WH-CH520 headphones worn by a man in front of a window

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for one week
  • Used in an office, while walking in the city, and on public transport
  • Mainly tested with Apple Music and iPhone 13 Pro

To test the Sony WH-CH520N, I used them as part of my normal routine – listening to music over Bluetooth from my phone while working, while walking around the city, and while traveling on buses and trains.

These are lightweight headphones for commuting and home use, so that's where I focused my testing. I also paired them with a laptop to test multi-point pairing, and aside from streaming tracks from Apple Music, I also listened to podcasts, watched downloaded videos, watched videos and listened to music on YouTube, and tried other sources.

I've been testing headphones and audio equipment for around a decade, ranging from affordable options to high-end sets.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2023

Next Page »